Employers See Skills as Top Challenge for 2021

Dynamic Skills

Employers continue to worry about whether their workers will master the skills necessary to help their businesses succeed. In fact, more than two-thirds of HR leaders, 68%, told Gartner that building critical skills and competencies is their top priority for 2021.

That aligns with their business-level priorities, which include improving operational excellence (65%) and growing the business (64%). Half said they’ll focus on optimizing costs in 2021, a 13% increase from 2020.

HR leaders say developing skills will be their most critical responsibility during 2021, as they begin thinking beyond the pandemic. @Gartner #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

Mark Whittle, vice president of advisory in Gartner’s HR practice, said the research firm’s 2021 HR Priorities Survey indicates that “HR leaders are moving away from crisis management toward focusing on what will make their organizations strong.”

A number of businesses, HR technology vendors and employees have zeroed in on reskilling as an important area for business and career success in recent years, as employers sought to drive efficiency and workers aimed to make themselves more attractive as either internal or external candidates.

In response, Gartner has floated the concept of “a dynamic approach to reskilling,” which is less about learning technology and analytics than it is about method. In Gartner’s view, organizations should leverage their people, systems and strategies to help HR monitor trends and identify skills to be developed as they’re needed.

Gartner’s concept remains aspirational. According to the 2021 survey, just 21% of HR executives say their peers somehow partner with HR to forecast future skill needs. Meanwhile, 62% said their company lacks a future of work strategy, which relates not only to needed skills but to the looming changes employers face in the wake of the pandemic, including the increase in remote work, the increased use of employee data and new factors in employer branding, such as crisis response or workplace safety measures.    

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