The Time for Reskilling is Now: How to go about it in a post-pandemic world

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Tram Anh Nguyen joins the boad of EDHEC business school
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In the past few months, the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of all industries, and, in particular, finance. Adapting to our digital world is now, therefore, more critical than ever, as we have seen things change swiftly. With millions now finding themselves with inadequate skills, it is our purpose at the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship to help people and organisations upskill in order to make their next move.

At the same time that digitalisation is happening, the health crisis is morphing into a social one with unemployment rising fast. The risk of having a large part of a population out of work, and with outdated skills preventing them from finding a new job, is therefore real.

But, who should be part of the reconstruction of our post-pandemic workforce?

CFTE believes that a tripartite approach is required in this societal effort:

  • Governments and regulators: the nation
  • Financial institutions and industry bodies: the employer
  • Employees and those looking for jobs: the person

We have been working with professionals at these 3 levels since we founded CFTE in 2017, and upskilled, ever since, more than 60,000 professionals from major financial institutions, organizations and governments. We have seen our alumni make swift career moves after acquiring the right skills to succeed in finance, and we now see a more-urgent-than-ever need to upskill millions of people.

It’s no longer about the why but about the how to reskill

At CFTE, we have been extremely vocal for many many years already about the importance of upskilling and reskilling our workforce. Even before COVID-19, we spent a lot of time convincing people about the ever-lasting list of reasons to upskill. 

Today, with the coronavirus crisis at its peak, it is no longer about the why – the reasons talk for themselves – but about the how to reskill and upskill.

 But in case your why is blurry, let me show you the reasons why I believe we should start addressing the how now. A study from McKinsey about the skills gap, conducted this February, shows that almost 50% of the workforce is experiencing a skill gap, with the rest of the workforce following through with this trend in the next 3 to 6 years. February was a month before the pandemic took its toll on the world’s workforce – can you imagine what the study would have concluded even just a month after?

An infographic from McKinsey showing the skills gap expected within organisations
Source: McKinsey, 2020

Today, COVID-19 has totally changed the landscape. We are now experiencing work from home – something largely unprecedented and inconceivable 6 months ago – and digitalising our businesses at speed record. This only makes the need to understand digital an imperative. That clearly shows that upskilling and reskilling is now mandatory.  

In the finance industry, where we upskill thousands of individuals on Fintech, the data is no better. Based on the Coursera Global Skill index, which surveyed 38 million participants, the finance industry is ill-prepared for a digital revolution. For an industry where technology is a radical disruptor, we see a tremendous breach in terms of current skill and knowledge on business and finance and the same on technology and data science. The gap and lack are alarming.

An infographic from coursera showing the top skills in business, technology and data science
Source: Coursera Global Skills Index

It is clear: Human investment is now the best investment we can make. But how?

How can I update my skills? The how as an individual 

How do I update my skills? How do I stay relevant? What is the best way for me to stay ahead?

Hundreds of questions like this might be piling in your mind and fogging your thinking. As I’ve mentioned, how you upskill right now is truly the question you should be asking yourself, and thus, finding the correct answer is of great importance.

As people tried to discover their how during lockdown, e-learning has seen a rise. In times of social distancing, online education seems like the best bet on yourself. More and more people have surfed the internet in the search of what will allow them to upskill and give them an edge in the job market forming post-pandemic. 

However, we all seem to prefer learning with a teacher in the same room we are in. On average, only 10% of people complete an online programme. But why? Apparent reasons are lack of quality of those online courses and an unstructured learning programme – dissuading learners from investing their much valued time into something not yielding results.

However, not everything is lost. E-learning has the capability to become your tool to upskill during these times, you just need to find the courses that are truly a learning experience.

  This is what we do at CFTE on a daily basis. We spend hours and hours thinking of ways to interact with our learners, to make our learning better, more enjoyable and with excellent subject experts.

Our courses on Fintech are curated by top-notch industry experts and academics from leading organizations, start-ups and universities to bring the most relevant knowledge to our learners. We engage professionals committed to their upskilling with short videos and curated readings as well as fostered conversations so that their learning experience is what they expect for their time and effort. As of today, +60,000 professionals have trusted us with their upskilling.

How can I train thousands of employees at the same time? Upskilling for organizations

Organizations allocate less than 1% of their IT budget in preparing employees for digital. How will this add up with the digital transformation the current crisis is accelerating?

When we talk to financial institutions, we spend a lot of the time answering how to go about reskilling their employees – and the task is challenging. Our discussions are around: what are the skills needed? What’s the learning path people should take depending on their jobs? How do I segment my employees into groups? What kind of learning should we facilitate if we are in wealth management or trading or compliance, etc…?

At CFTE, we take responsibility for helping our corporate clients answer these questions and providing them with the tools they need to upskill their human capital. Until today, 36 major financial institutions in the world, like PayPal, OCBC Bank and UOB, have trusted CFTE to show them how to upskill their people in preparation for the digital revolution so present today. But corporations that fail to upskill their employees should keep wondering how they are going to prepare their people and their business for the new world that is coming.

How can we support millions of citizens? Reskilling our nations

If answering the question of how to upskill yourself as an individual or how to upskill your entire human capital in your organization is already hard enough – how do you go about supporting millions of citizens reskilling and upskilling?

Let’s take the example of the UK, where 9 million are in furlough at the moment. Without the possibility of physically doing their job, the government is artificially supporting these people. However, some of these 9 million people won’t be able to return to their jobs any time soon, or their jobs might not exist anymore. How do we then deal with these many people being left idle?

Reskilling and upskilling our national workforce should be an ongoing task. We are quick to think we will have time to prepare our people for the future of work, but COVID-19 has accelerated everything. When people thought we had 6 years to plan our reskilling, we now only had 6 months to adapt. And the pressing question now is how to go about it.

At CFTE, we believe that governments and regulators play a critical role in upskilling and re-skilling millions, but that this is a challenging task because of 3 main reasons:

  • Governments have traditionally focused on education for children, rather than systematic training for adults,
  • The role of government – vs employer – is usually not well defined,
  • The best practices in this area are not clearly defined. 

CFTE, with our objective of education at scale and experience of working with governments around the world, has the objective to accelerate new governmental initiatives. We have had the chance to be working closely with a few leading organisations and governments who share the same vision as we do at CFTE, from the Budapest Institute of Banking to Hong Kong’s Cyberport, Abu Dhabi’s GM, Malaysia’s ABS and Singapore’s IBF and Ngee Ann Polytechnic – and helped them upskill their people.

The time is now

All this time, there are questions we need to answer. What is the new behaviour of professional learners? What are the types of programmes we should create? What policies are in place to address this reskilling mission?

The time for reskilling and upskilling couldn’t be more pressing than now. How we go about this challenge is what will mark our success in preparing the workforce of the future. At CFTE, we believe quality online education is the go-to way to succeed in this mission. We have 6 months to prepare for the new work environment – let’s be strategic about our upskilling options.

Tram Anh Nguyen, CFTE Co-Founder.

Upskill yourself and your organisation with CFTE

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