The Future of Work is All About Your Skills

The future of work won’t be about college degrees. It’ll be about skills.

That’s the new global reality shaping the job market. Highest performing organizations are reinvesting in their talent to fuel profits and business growth. By investing in training and development efforts, companies can enable their well-rounded employees to perfect their set of skills to succeed in their jobs.

The reality is that employers are looking for more than knowledge — they want skills,  top-tier tech companies such as Google, Apple, and IBM have gone public “offering well-paying jobs to those with nontraditional education.” For these and many other companies, a solid, skills-centered non-formal education is all that separates ambitious students from top-paying jobs. A formal education is no longer the best path to launching a successful career.

The skills gap is widening and companies are struggling to find the right talent. A recent Gartner research supports this premise by highlighting that companies need to shift from external hiring strategies towards their current workforces and apply risk mitigation strategies for critical talent shortages.  According to Gartner, most organizations are undergoing a digital transformation that directly impacts how they do business, yet 70 percent of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, and 80 percent of employees do not have the skills needed for their current and future roles.

Re-skilling was also hot topic in this year’s Davos event. According to a World Economic Forum report released just ahead of the event, a total of 1.4 million US workers might lose their jobs over the next decade as a result of new technological changes and inadequate skills compete effectively. However, the report found, it will be possible to transition 95 percent of at-risk workers into positions that have similar skills and higher wages through re-skilling. The report further indicates that the rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022.

Too often, college degrees have been thought of as lifelong stamps of professional competency, perpetuating the notion that work — and the knowledge it requires — is static.  The shift to a skills-based economy enables individuals to compete for employment based on what they can do for a company. At the same time it gives companies a tremendous opportunity to more efficiently integrate continual learning into work routines and implement reskilling and upskilling initiatives.

Here at Udacity we are working with global companies to help them:

  • Launch an upskilling initiative across their company (communicate the mission, how employees can get involved, what is expected of them, duration and how success is measured)
  • Develop flexible learning journeys to help employees reach the next level and prepare for tomorrow
  • Encourage our stakeholder(s) to invest in frequent, regular communications about the employee experience
  • Work collectively to employ incentives, learning models, leadership communications, and other motivational campaigns to drive completion rate of upskilling programs.

Udacity for Enterprise provides tailored, end-to-end learning paths for your company and entire workforce. We’ll help companies choose the right learning path for their workforce and help their high-performing employees continue to gain the right skills to excel and innovate.

Let’s get started.

The Talent Right In Front of You

When you invest in the education of your employees, you give your company the gift of a long-term solution to your talent needs

(Originally posted on blog.udacity.com. Written by Christopher Watkins)

The following quote has been variously attributed to everyone from Lao Tzu to Maimonides to Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie:

“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”

Given its ubiquity throughout modern history, it’s clearly a resonant message, and part of its appeal has to do with its broad applicability—it’s germane to so many different use cases.

The quote is generally interpreted as a lesson about self-sufficiency, but it’s also sage advice when thinking about short-term “band-aids” vs. long-term solutions. Why solve something for a day, only to have the same problem again tomorrow? Why not embrace a long-term solution that eliminates the problem once and for all?

Hiring managers and recruiters confront this issue every day. After all, hiring is essentially an act of problem-solving—a company has a need, and the right hiring decision will solve for it. But what IS the right hiring decision? If you’re a company in need of talent, the solution is often right in front of you!

Let’s take the example of a company website.

Company X is a small company. They have a website, but it’s not very good, and it’s becoming a problem. They need a new site, but no one internally has the skills to do the work. What should Company X do? One solution is to hire someone from outside their organization to do the work. In theory, this makes sense, because professionals will know what to do, and how to do it. The challenges with this approach, however, are multi-fold. One obvious issue, is that there’s no real way to know whether the outside entity will do a good job. But the bigger question is, how can you know whether they’ll “get” you? A website isn’t just functional. It’s a symbol of brand identity. It communicates values as much as it provides services. So you want to work with someone who understands who you are as a company. Finding an outside entity that is both reliable, and that understands your brand, is difficult, and even if you DO find someone, they’re not yours for keeps. They do the work, then they’re off to the next client.

Hiring an outside entity often results in a “fed for a day” solution. If all goes well, you’ll get your new site, but as your company expands and evolves, you’ll be hungry again soon.

So what’s the alternative?

If you’re in a Company X kind of a situation, take a moment to look around you. What do you see? Chances are, what you see are dedicated, reliable, hardworking individuals who are committed to your company, and who most definitely “get” you. But at first glance, you might not be seeing the people who can build your new site.

Or are you?

Here at Udacity, we think you are! We think there are people at your company right now, who are just a Nanodegree program away from giving you exactly what you need. Don’t believe us? Poll your employees today. Find out whether someone at your company harbors an interest in web development. Chances are, there’s someone who’d jump at this kind of opportunity.

So, here’s a suggestion for companies in need of talent. Instead of investing in a one-time, short-term approach, invest in a Nanodegree program on behalf of one or more of your employees instead, and give your company the gift of a long-term solution to your talent needs.

Employees, this is an action item for you as well. If you’ve got a passion for something, and you think pursuing your passion can help your company, speak up! That’s what Kat Halo did. Her company hired someone else to do their marketing, but Kat knew she could do a better job. She took it upon herself to learn digital marketing with Udacity, and now, she’s doing marketing for her company!

There are a great many tangible benefits to hiring from within. A recent CareerBuilder article affirms that you’ll save money and see better performance, and Adam Foroughi, writing for Entrepreneur, notes the following:

  1. Motivated employees work harder.
  2. Opportunity, happy people = higher retention.
  3. Internal hires adapt better to new roles.

And finally, as noted in a recent article from Inc., “Wharton research shows that external hires cost18 to 20 percent more than those  promoted from within.”

In a world marked by rapid technological advancement, more and more companies all across the hiring landscape are embracing digital transformation initiatives, and this is leading them to look anew at the talent within their own ranks. At Udacity, our Enterprise team works directly with hundreds of different companies who are investing in their employees by proactively offering opportunities to reskill and upskill through our Nanodegree programs. If you’re not yet investing in the talent you already have, now’s a really good time to consider doing so!

Let’s now return to our quote:

“Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.”

The key lesson here lies in the distinction between “a day” and “a lifetime.” As a company, when it comes to making hiring decisions, you want to invest in a long-term solution that works for the long term, and that’s what investing in the development of existing employees is all about. When you need talent, you often need look no further than the people right in front of you.

Your Next Great Tech Hire May NOT Have A Computer Science Degree. And That’s A Good Thing

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Qualifications, credentials, and experience remain vital considerations when assessing candidate suitability for a key role. We’re not here to debate that. What we ARE here to do is to propose a rethink about what constitutes applicable (read: relevant!) qualifications, credentials, and experience. Because what you really need in your candidates today, can’t necessarily be measured by traditional means. What you need are people with lifelong commitments to learning, the ability to easily and quickly adapt, growth mindsets, and a fluent command of modern tools and technological advances.

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Rethinking How You Hire? Some Companies Are Changing the Game Altogether

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There was a time when a college degree was virtually the sole measure of job-readiness. That time is gone. There are simply too many other, more effective ways to find and vet crucial talent. That’s not to say a college degree can’t be a key factor; it can. But in today’s hiring environment, the need for specific skillsets is too intense, the pace of change too rapid, the competition too fierce. Companies often need truly rarefied talent, and they’re realizing a college degree is no longer the best determinant of suitability. Agility and flexibility are vital, real-world experience, critical. There is a genuine need to reevaluate hiring practices, and the most innovative companies are already doing so.

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Today’s Talent, Tomorrow Skills: Udacity’s Job Guarantee

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The current hiring landscape brings with it some significant challenges, and Udacity understands how difficult it is to keep up with the pace of technological change. But we also know that you’re committed to overcoming whatever hurdles stand in your way, and that talent acquisition is instrumental to your company’s success. Through our work with dedicated learners driven to pursue the most amazing career opportunities available, and courtesy of our critical industry partnerships, we have been able to amass a wealth of insight into the state of today’s hiring needs, and we believe we have found a way for you to hire faster better, and smarter.

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5 Great Benefits of Hiring Veterans

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Job-seeking military veterans are ultra-competitive candidates. They have proven track records and in-demand skill sets. Sometimes their value gets lost in translation, but here you’ll find some of the crystal clear benefits for recruiting and hiring them.

Currently, there are many commendable initiatives advocating for the hiring of military veterans. I greatly appreciate every organization and individual concerned with the interests of our country’s transitioning service members. However, as a military veteran myself, I’d like to turn the tables and focus on how hiring military veterans is a lucrative move for companies across every industry. Here are just five of the many amazing benefits of hiring veterans:

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So Obvious You Missed It: How To Solve The Employee Engagement Puzzle

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For decades, an effective learning and development program has been considered an important part of an employee engagement and retention strategy. New research, however, shows that its level of importance has been understated—significantly, perhaps even tremendously.

Having happy, motivated and engaged employees is critical for organizations. Engaged employees power growth and innovation. According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform others by 147 percent in earnings per share and have 25-65 percent less turnover, depending on whether they are low- or high-turnover organizations.

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