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March 10, 2021
The paradigm shift needed to bridge the global skills gap
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David Foley, Vice President, Sales at BigSpring, reflects on the shift that is needed to narrow down the ever-widening skills gap.

One day late last year, I came across this article written by Bhakti Vithalani, founder & CEO of BigSpring, a mobile-first lifelong skilling platform. The article resonated with me given that, over the last several decades, employers have made few changes to how they approach talent supply & demand dynamics. As Bhakti mentions, “We need to address the root cause of the demand-supply mismatch by inverting the current education to industry equation, where students (supply) seek out employers (demand) and instead create an ecosystem where demand nurtures supply.”  The model to date has been to make it incumbent on learners to take the initiative. For candidates, a job description details hard requirements, yet employers rarely provide the direction, training or support to bridge the gap. On the employer side, companies often offer employees “learning management systems'' and libraries of content, yet none of these tools & platforms are designed for lifelong learning and proficiency. Candidates and employees are left to chase their own skilling & development, yet few are set up for success as the incumbent systems most often deliver training that is out of sync with what the market demands.  

Skilling is an urgent priority for the global economy and society as a whole. The World Economic Forum estimates that closing the global skills gap could add US$11.5 trillion to global GDP by 2028. For companies, skilling is a concern not just for their knowledge workers, but also for their wider ecosystem of contractors, gig workers, channel partners and even customers. With the COVID-19 crisis and the unavoidable semi-permanent move to remote/hybrid work, the demand for scalable, flexible, proficiency-oriented skilling platforms has been further amplified.

But as they say, every crisis is also an opportunity. The World Economic Forum predicts that the rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace will create 133 million new roles in place of the 75 million that will be displaced between 2018 and 2022. How are we going to skill workers for these jobs of the future, at scale and with proficiency validation in mind? How do we balance automation with the human element, for example, social learning and personalized coaching? How do we cultivate a culture of lifelong learning, and an offering that is customized and keeps up with the pace of business? At the end of the day, how do we build systems that tie investments into skilling with eventual business impact?

I’m excited to officially share that I have recently started as the head of sales for BigSpring and I will be tackling these challenges alongside Bhakti and the team. One of BigSpring’s global customers best described our approach to learning as the only scalable and sustainable model; one with shared responsibility between the Enterprise and those seeking to begin and grow their careers through continuous, relevant skill development. I’m ready to take this challenge on and I look forward to flipping the script, better enabling workforce skilling, resulting in better social equity in the global workforce.