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Outplacement Plays a Critical Role in Closing the Skill Gap

23 August
by Raymond Lee
4 minute read

Upskilling and reskilling are essential to future-proof the workforce and organizations.

Is your company being impacted by digital transformation and are you faced with a massive skills gap that is impacting your bottom line?

Industries across the globe are being impacted by digital transformation in one way or another and talent and human resources leaders are scrambling to determine how to invest in their employees to retain them versus being forced to lay them off.

According to a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey that examined the future of work, "companies lack the talent they will need in the future: 44 percent of respondents say their organizations will face skill gaps within the next five years, and another 43 percent report existing skill gaps."

In the Salesforce blog, "What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?" Devon McGinnis explains that it’s "a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It's a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies."

The disruption that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has caused will mean employers need to act fast to create an infrastructure of learning that accelerates their ability to upskill employees so they can add more value to their roles.

Over the last two years, the unfortunate reality is that many organizations have opted to transition out employees who lack the critical skills of the future, leaving the burden on talent acquisition leaders to seek out these new skills.

Historically, outplacement providers have been tasked with helping impacted employees with resume writing, branding, interviewing, and other job search support to help displaced workers transition into a new role. 

But as of late, the model for delivering outplacement has been turned upside down. Not only with how services are delivered, but more importantly, how they help workers identify upskilling and reskilling opportunities, so they can ultimately find their dream job. 

This leaves outplacement providers with a big responsibility to ensure workers not only land their dream job but bring the appropriate skills with them.

Incorporating upskilling into the outplacement journey can take on many different forms and requires planning.

The first step is to understand where the workers’ skill sets currently lie, by creating a holistic career skills profile.

This career profile helps establish a road map to success. This type of career pathing further helps workers understand what skills and requirements they will need to achieve success. 

Future skills consist of both technical skills and human skills, such as empathy, teamwork, and self-awareness. Coaches are taking on the role of helping workers identify how they will bridge those skills gaps by directing them to content through customized learning plans.

Entergy Corporation is a Fortune 500 holding company that provides utility services to 3 million customers in four southern states through its utility operating companies. These Entergy system companies have been on a  journey to upskill and retain employees to meet the ever-changing needs of the utility industry.

Entergy's HR department partnered with Careerminds years ago as their outplacement provider. As of late, however, Entergy's Talent Acquisition department turned to Careerminds to help implement a program to retain employees impacted by the planned closure of a nuclear power plant.

The program objective was to allow any impacted plant employee the opportunity to fill an open position within the Entergy system if their skill set matched the role. Impacted employees were also given the opportunity to upskill if they did not meet the requirements for a position of interest. A secondary objective was to retain 100% of impacted employees within the Entergy system. 

Every impacted employee who participated in the program had a branded profile with relevant technical and behavioral skills that matched to identified job openings. Entergy's Talent Acquisition department was connected to Careerminds’ coaches to facilitate matching workers to the most appropriate job openings.

Careerminds coaches met with participants in the redeployment Program on a regular basis to assess their progress in transitioning to new roles, to help them identify opportunities that were realistic for them based on their skills and experience, and to encourage them to think positively about their future roles. In positions identified as good possibilities for reskilling or upskilling, a skills gap analysis was performed in coaching sessions with the input of both the candidates and the coaches and skills needed to be developed or enhanced were identified.  Regular meetings were held between Entergy Talent Acquisition representatives and Careerminds coaches about the progress of candidates in the program, and efforts were made by the Entergy HR business partners to help the candidates network with recruiters for the identified positions.

One program participant was able to upskill into a new Human Resources role. He was interested in advancing his career rather than being in a “bubble,” as he termed his situation. To accomplish his goal of being hired for an HR advisor position, he first applied for and was accepted into a leadership development program, enabling him to earn an HR credential that better positioned him for a higher-level job position. Emphasis was placed on building his brand to include his new skills and the contributions he could make in a new, more advanced role, and time was devoted to interview preparation with the Careerminds’ coach. In the end, the participant felt he was effective in upskilling through the collaborative efforts of his employer and Careerminds who had his best interests in mind and could help him achieve his goals.

Ultimately, in the end, every impacted employee who chose to participate in the program found another position within the Entergy system, and no employee was outplaced.

Whether companies are looking to redeploy workers internally or transition externally, outplacement firms like Careerminds are taking “outplacement” to the next level by future-proofing workers in transition by upskilling them to add value to their future jobs and roles.