Rising expectations leave wider workforce skills gap during COVID-19 jobs swoon

It's 'imperative to bring forward a new era of HR'

Experts fear shifts in company culture during the coronavirus pandemic and rising employer expectations are accelerating a workforce skills gap.

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Additionally, fewer than four in 10 human resources executives say they currently have the skills needed to achieve their company's hiring and workforce-management goals, according to a new survey by IBM.

In 2018, research suggested that 120 million workers surveyed in the world's 12 largest economies may need to be retrained because of the advancement of artificial intelligence and automation within three years' time.

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The challenge has been exacerbated amid the ongoing global health crisis as a result of C-suite leaders accelerating their digital transformation. Those top-tier executives have reported inadequate skills as one of their biggest hurdles to progress, IBM said.

"Today perhaps more than ever, organizations can either fail or thrive based on their ability to enable the agility and resiliency of their greatest competitive advantage – their people," said Amy Wright, managing partner of IBM Talent & Transformation.

Shot of an exhausted-looking businessman sitting in front of his laptop at his desk.

At the same time, IBM's latest study also revealed that employees' expectations for their employers have significantly changed during the pandemic. The findings show a disconnect in how effective leaders and employees believe companies have been in addressing these challenges.

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About 74% of executives believe their employers have been helping them learn the skills needed to work in a new way. but only 38% of employees agreed.

Additionally, 80% of executives said their company is supporting employees' physical and emotional health compared with 46% of employees who were in agreement.

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It's important for businesses to meet the changing needs of employees by offering "holistic support for their well-being, development of new skills and truly personalized employee experiences even while working remotely," Wright said.

The IBM Institute for Business Value study -- conducted in partnership with global independent analyst Josh Bersin of the Josh Bersin Academy -- surveyed more than 1,500 global HR executives in 20 countries and 15 industries.

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