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A pivotal point: the future of workforce development

As we emerge from the pandemic, assess its fallout in the workplace and look to recovery, business leaders are going to nd themselves facing a dire talent and skills shortage. We knew this when Covid rst struck: chief executives then saw such a shortage as one of their biggest business threats. The chances now are that it is becoming an even bigger threat, particularly in new digital areas, as this report shows. And it is arriving as budgets tighten like never before.

The clear need is to focus intensely on reskilling and upskilling. It is cheaper to develop than to hire. The wisdom of this approach is borne out by the 2021 L&D Global Sentiment Survey, now in its eighth year and published at the start of February. For 3,114 L&D voters from 95 countries, the answer to “What will be hot in L&D in 2021?” was a clear and unequivocal “Reskilling/ upskilling”.

Yet despite knowing the value of and the need for reskilling and upskilling, for developing the existing workforce rather than looking for new talent from outside, many businesses are not putting it into practice with anything like the commitment that’s needed. “Training” is still siloed, it is often about box ticking content rather than true integrated performance development and skills gap identi cation is poor.

On the one hand, this means that many businesses need to move mountains if they’re to overcome the shortages they can expect. That requires signi cant internal change and also replacing some of their large, unresponsive learning management providers with new, more agile players.

On the other hand, it means that for such agile new providers there is a market that is wide open for development with opportunities at great scale.

Based on extensive research, this report explores the key trends, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for learning and development practitioners, organisations, policymakers and founders. Workforce development is ripe for evolution. This report gives vital insights into the form that evolution can take, with actionable recommendations for business, policy, L&D leaders and founders.

Read the full report from emerge Education & Future Learn here.

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Gender equality in the workplace: going beyond women on the board

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 , it will take another 100 years to achieve gender equality based on the current rate of progress. This prediction has been widely used as a shock therapy to push governments, NGOs, associations, investors and companies into action. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, efforts will have to be doubled if we are to avoid losing another 10 years to achieve gender equality2. Based on past experience, economic slowdowns not only disproportionately affect women, but also trigger gender equality topics to slip down governmental and corporate agendas. Women represent 39% of the global workforce but accounted for 54% of job losses as of May 20203. Furthermore, women are over-represented in sectors which are most heavily hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality or the food services industries, further exacerbating inequalities. These inequalities also disproportionately affect certain groups of women, depending on the intersections of gender with race, ethnicity, religion, class, ability, sexuality and other identity markers. 

In 2020, the discourse has shifted significantly from a focus on gender diversity towards diversity and inclusion more generally. However, the lack of data on other diversity indicators and how they intersect with gender has made it difficult for companies and investors to measure their performance and consistently identify gaps in the domain. As a result, most large-scale corporate and financial initiatives tend to still focus on mainstream gender metrics.

Read the Full report and article here.

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Women in the Workplace 2020

The events of 2020 have turned workplaces upside down. Under the highly challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are struggling to do their jobs. Many feel like they’re “always on” now that the boundaries between work and home have blurred. They’re worried about their family’s health and finances. Burnout is a real issue. 

Women in particular have been negatively impacted. Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis,1 stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a “double shift”—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible—including school and childcare—have been upended. Meanwhile, Black women already faced more barriers to advancement than most other employees.2 Today they’re also coping with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community. And the emotional toll of repeated instances of racial violence falls heavily on their shoulders. 

As a result of these dynamics, more than one in four women are contemplating what many would have considered unthinkable just six months ago: downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce completely. This is an emergency for corporate America. Companies risk losing women in leadership—and future women leaders—and unwinding years of painstaking progress toward gender diversity. 

The crisis also represents an opportunity. If companies make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace—and there are signs that this is starting to happen—they can retain the employees most affected by today’s crises and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term. The rest of this article summarizes the report’s main findings (and you can go even deeper with a behind-the-scenes chatwith one of the report’s coauthors on our blog).

This is the sixth year of the Women in the Workplace study—in a year unlike any other. This effort, conducted in partnership with LeanIn.Org, tracks the progress of women in corporate America. The data set this year reflects contributions from 317 companies that participated in the study and more than 40,000 people surveyed on their workplace experiences; more than 45 in-depth interviews were also conducted to dive deeper on the issues. These efforts were in the field from June to August of 2020, although the pipeline data represents employer-provided information from calendar year 2019.

Click here to read the full McKinsey Report

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The social contract in the 21st century

The social contract in the 21st century   Economic outcomes and the relationship between individuals and institutions have shifted for workers, consumers, and savers in advanced economies.    Executive Summary (PDF-723KB) Full Report (PDF-2MB)  

Life has changed substantially for individuals in advanced economies in the first two decades of the 21st century as a result of trends including disruptions in technology, globalization, the economic crisis of 2008 and its recovery, and shifting market and institutional dynamics. In many ways, changes for individuals have been for the better, including new opportunities and overall economic growth—and the prospect of more to come as the century progresses, through developments in science, technology and innovation, and productivity growth. Yet, the relatively positive perspective on the state of the economy, based on GDP and job growth indicators, needs to be complemented with a fuller assessment of the economic outcomes for individuals as workers, consumers, and savers

In a report, The social contract in the 21st century: Outcomes so far for workers, consumers, and savers in advanced economies (PDF–2.7MB), the McKinsey Global Institute takes an in-depth look at these changes in 22 advanced economies in Asia, Europe, and North America, covering 57 percent of global GDP. Among the findings: while opportunities for work have expanded and employment rates have risen to record levels in many countries, work polarization and income stagnation are real and widespread. The cost of many discretionary goods and services has fallen sharply, but basic necessities such as housing, healthcare, and education are absorbing an ever-larger proportion of incomes. Coupled with wage stagnation effects, this is eroding the welfare of the bottom three quintiles of the population by income level (roughly 500 million people in 22 countries). Public pensions are being scaled back—and roughly the same three quintiles of the population do not or cannot save enough to make up the difference.

These shifts point to an evolution in the “social contract”: the arrangements and expectations, often implicit, that govern the exchanges between individuals and institutions. Broadly, individuals have had to assume greater responsibility for their economic outcomes. While many have benefited from this evolution, for a significant number of individuals the changes are spurring uncertainty, pessimism, and a general loss of trust in institutions.

Policy makers, business leaders, and individuals will need to focus on two fronts. The first is Policy makers, business leaders, and individuals will need to focus on two fronts. The first is sustaining and expanding the gains achieved through continued economic and productivity growth; business dynamism; investment in economies, technology and innovation; and continued focus on job growth and opportunity creation. The second is tackling the challenges individuals face, especially those most affected. Leaders are beginning to respond to these opportunities and challenges to varying degrees. However, more is needed given the scale of the opportunities and challenges, if the outcomes for the next 20 or more years of the 21st century are to be better than the first 20 and increase broad prosperity.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Employment has risen but labor markets are polarized and wages have stagnated For consumers, discretionary goods and services are cheaper, but housing and other basics are more expensive Individual and institutional savings have declined at a time when they matter even more Institutions have shifted responsibility for outcomes to individuals Outcomes for workers, consumers, and savers vary by socioeconomic groups Adapting the social contract for the 21st century

​Download the full research from McKinsey

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A mid-life employment crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a labour market crisis. Despite unprecedented measures to prevent a rise in unemployment – including the state stepping in to pay the wages of over nine million furloughed workers – the claimant count has risen more sharply than at any time in the last century.

The crisis follows a period when employment among older workers had reached historic highs. This report, in partnership with Centre for Ageing Better, shows that there is a real risk is that the pandemic could reverse this trend, leading to long-term unemployment for older workers:

The number of older workers seeking unemployment related benefits doubled during the lockdown.The number of claims increased by over 280,000 between February 2020 and June 2020, rising from just over 300,000 in February to over 580,000 in June.

This report sets out three steps that the Government can take to support older workers to prevent long-term unemployment in the wake of COVID-19:

New back-to-work support programmes must not repeat the mistakes of the Work Programme. The Government’s announcement of a broad programme of traineeship opportunities available to workers under 25 should be accompanied by support for all adults to retrain, including the over 50s. There is a need for further work to understand financial wellbeing among older workers, how the pandemic has affected them, and the options available to support them, so that appropriate action can be taken. There is a risk of further job losses as the furlough scheme is unwound and as some sectors struggle to recover. One in four older workers – 2.5m in total – have been furloughed, and hundreds of thousands will be unable to return to their previous jobs. One in ten older male workers and one in six female older workers were employed in the ‘shutdown sectors’ hit hardest by the lockdown. Older workers who lose their jobs are far more likely to slip into longterm worklessness. Over 50s who are unemployed are twice as likely to be out of work for 12 months or more as younger workers and almost 50% more likely as workers aged 25 to 49. The pandemic has already had a significant impact on older workers’ finances. Two out of five older workers say that they are concerned that their finances will get worse as a result of the pandemic. Download the full research from Learning & Work Institute