September 19, 2019

Reskilling with Leadership Agility: The Path to the Future

A research conducted by McKinsey found that 75 million to 375 million individuals, which is 3% to 14% of the global workforce, could be forced to change job category by 2030.

If you consider the percentage of possible displacement of workers due to technological disruption, there is one major question you might be asking — What is the best way to navigate your workforce through the future ahead of you?

One obvious solution would be to pay a huge price to acquire future technologies.

However, there is another option. Instead of spending all revenues on technology, you can opt for a strategy that not only reduces your future expenses but also helps your current workforce retain their jobs — Reskilling.

Let’s look into four ways you can prepare your workforce for the future:

First, build a learning environment

Deloitte asked 2,000 business leaders globally and found that the biggest workforce challenge is the mismatch of current skill sets with the future, which suggests that many of the currently existing skills might no longer be relevant in the future.

Companies like AT&T have already started working on reskilling. They have invested $1 billion on a multi-year reskilling program with more than half of its workforce completing courses related to highly demanding skills of the future like data science, cybersecurity, and agile project management.

One take away lesson from these mentioned companies is this — Reskilling is not just about learning one specific skill. As much as it is about developing a skill that solves the need for a particular task, it is about growing a mindset that promotes a community dedicated to learning any type of skill the future requires.

You need to create a culture that not only rewards the completion of a learning course, but also appreciates the journey of learning new skills and celebrates the process of growth, and not just wait for the final results.

Second, put empathy at the centre of your work culture

Reskilling is about your people, not you. It is not just about training your current workforce to become better in what they are currently doing or what you want them to do, it’s more about what they need to learn to succeed in future.

You need to equip your workforce in overall personal and professional development to help them thrive in whatever role they end up in the future. To understand employee’s current and future needs, you might need to re-structure and align your organisational policies, work culture and processes to promote empathy at the core of your culture.

When Nokia had to lay off 18,000 employees, they introduced Bridge program, which features grants, training, and job search support, and it enabled 60% of departing employees to find a new job even after they left the company.

One of the most important traits, as a leader, you might need in future, is a vision based on empathy.

Third, be open to flexible talent and skills

Millennials are mostly self-leaders who like to have their autonomy. You need to build a system that incorporates flexibility so that different learning and working styles can grow within your organisation.

General Electric is hiring a lot of freelancers through its GeniusLink program that enables them to complete more than 100 projects at 50% faster than traditional hiring methods. GeniusLink program connects a global network of freelance experts and helps them collaborate to drive speed and productivity for teams and customers.

You need to identify the best way to adjust your organisational structure and management style to allow flexibility of work.

Finally, treat your current workforce as your primary asset

From reskilling current employees to hiring new experts, you need to have the perfect blend of different ways to succeed in your journey towards digital transformation.

You need to appreciate the loyalty and contribution of old employees as much as you reward the new hires for their fresh perspective and ideas. Balancing these two levels of experience and expertise can help your organisation achieve the best out of both groups.

The future workforce is the responsibility of leaders, and the biggest leadership challenge on your way towards the automated future is not technology but organisational agility. The future can be a big opportunity or a threat to your organisation depending on your vision and agility.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at