Employment and Jobs

How We Teach Digital Skills at PwC

October 15, 2018  • Mike Fenlon & Sarah McEneaney

UpSkill America is an employer-led movement to expand opportunity for America’s workers and allow our economy and communities to thrive. As part of our mission to advance the upskilling movement, we are pleased to share the following news featuring one of our partners.

The following story was originally posted in the Harvard Business Review.

Across our society and in all industries, leaders and their organizations are racing to unlock the value of data, tech-enable business processes, and create better, more digitally-enhanced experiences for customers, clients, and employees. They are working to disrupt their own businesses before somebody else does. This cannot be done without substantial investment in talent. With about 500,000 unfilled tech jobs in the U.S., a number that’s widely anticipated to double by 2020, executives know they can’t hire their way out of the need for upskilled employees. And workers are keenly focused on organizations that will invest in their development and help secure their future in a digital, data-driven economy.

Executives find themselves confronted with decisions about whether to acquire expertise from outside the company, through recruiting, partnerships, or acquisitions. But they can often overlook the idea of upskilling their current workforce. Upskilling can be a key enabler for driving the data, digital, and technology agenda of a company while also helping employees secure their own personal future and relevance. While employees must opt in to their own digital upskilling, and invest the time and effort required to acquire knowledge and new skills, leaders also need to commit to not leaving anyone behind and to making investments that support the lifelong learning that’s essential for the 21st century. Digital upskilling is fundamentally about culture and people experience — and bringing to life a shared growth mindset among individuals and teams, and across the entire organization.

At PwC, for example, we have developed a comprehensive workforce upskilling strategy to build the “digital fitness” of all of our people, equipping them with a broad base of knowledge across a variety of domains — such as data, analytics, AI and automation, blockchain, and design thinking — that we believe are critical for all business people today. This digital upskilling strategy is a core business priority, sponsored by our chairman.

We develop digital fitness through tech-enabled learning — including podcasts, gamification, immersive skill building, multimedia content, and quizzes pushed through mobile platforms, not limited by the traditional boundaries of classrooms. We also built a Digital Fitness app that provides each of our employees with a personalized assessment of their digital acumen, and guides them to the tools and learning resources they need to fill gaps and make improvements. This app provides a customized learning path, while generating valuable information for workforce planning and skill development strategies.

What did we learn along the way that can help other organizations who wish to put such programs into place? A few key things:

  1. Digital upskilling is a business and a people priority. It’s important that managers at all levels recognize development and upskilling as a CEO-driven business priority.
  2. Tech-enabled learning can’t happen without the right investments, assets, and processes in place. Employees should be empowered not only with digital tools and resources, but also, the time to apply that learning. The acquisition of new skills and demonstrated impact needs to be celebrated — and credentialed.
  3. Focus on building a growth mindset culture. Commit to leaving nobody behind — as long as they choose not to be left behind. Being committed to lifelong learning is simply table stakes in a digital and data-driven world. Organizationally-enabled learning is an implicit “contract” between the business and the learner/employee, who must be willing to opt in to what’s available.

The work we’re doing is tied to business outcomes and directly linked to culture change. Fundamentally, our digital upskilling is broad, scalable, flexible, fast, and already delivering results not just in terms of transforming our business — but in transforming our people experience.

This piece was excerpted from “How We Teach Digital Skills at PwC” by Mike Fenlon and Sarah McEneaney in Harvard Business Review. Click here to read more.

 

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“Workers are keenly focused on organizations that will invest in their development and help secure their future in a digital, data-driven economy.”

“#Upskilling can be a key enabler for driving the data, digital, and technology agenda of a company while also helping employees secure their own personal future and relevance.”

“[Leaders] need to commit to not leaving anyone behind and to making investments that support the lifelong learning that’s essential for the 21st century.”

“We have developed a comprehensive workforce #upskilling strategy to build the ‘digital fitness’ of all of our people, equipping them with a broad base of knowledge across a variety of domains… that we believe are critical for all business people today.”

“Our digital #upskilling is broad, scalable, flexible, fast, and already delivering results not just in terms of transforming our business — but in transforming our people experience.”

 

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