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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 HR 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—or emerging technologies may threaten their positions.

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 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, a Fortune 500 company, like many organizations in the utility industry is being impacted by the need to upskill and reskill employees. Entergy provides electric service to 3 million customers in four southern states and has been on a journey to upskill and retain employees along the way.

Entergy partnered with Careerminds years ago as their outplacement provider, but as of late turned to Careerminds to help implement a program to retain employees impacted by a nuclear power plant closure.

The program objective was to allow any employee impacted the opportunity to relocate for a job opening at another Entergy facility if their skill set matched the role. Employees were also given the opportunity to upskill to match any opening within the company. The second objective was to retain 100% of employees by redeploying them to other positions in the company, and by identifying upskilling opportunities and a career pathway to achieve success.

Every employee had a branded profile with relevant technical and behavioral skills that matched to job openings that existed within the company. Entergy Talent Acquisition was connected to Careerminds’ coaches to ensure workers were being matched to the best openings.

Careerminds Coaches met on a regular basis with participants in the Redeployment Program 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 HR 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.

An example of a candidate in the Redeployment Program who upskilled into a new position with Entergy was an employee in Human Resources.  He was interested in advancing within the company rather than being in a “bubble”, as he termed his situation.  To accomplish his goal of being hired for an HR Advisor position, he applied for and was accepted into a Leadership Development program, and he was successful in earning an HR credential that better positioned him for a higher-level position.  Emphasis was placed on building his brand to include his new skills and the contributions he could make in the 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 for the new role 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, nearly every Entergy employee had a home, and no employee was outplaced. A couple of employees decided to explore opportunities outside the company.

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.