After spending over 30 years serving in the DOD and now supporting both the DOD and Government Agencies, I have seen ever-widening gaps in both age, experience, and capability of a labor force that has some serious training issues ahead. In addition to that, we are witnessing serious technology-related skills gaps that are being exacerbated by the pandemic. Government agencies around the world must work toward bridging this gap by equipping people to adapt not only to new jobs but to entirely different fields.
In March 2022 Deloitte published a very informative article regarding this issue that states “Between the pandemic and new technologies, the labor force is experiencing massive disruption… with the result that ‘Many workers are leaving their jobs to take better positions elsewhere.”
Governments worldwide are now trying to bring labor policies in line with this new economic reality. The goal is to future-proof the labor force—to foster a workforce as dynamic as the economy it fuels. These policies must seek to improve the efficiency of labor markets, including changes to education, skills training, credentialing, and employment frameworks.
Consider some of the workforce challenges today that Deloitte’s paper reinforces:
- There is a skills mismatch. Changing technology has made some skills obsolete while creating unfilled demand for others. According to the World Economic Forum, the half-life of a job skill is about five years. In November 2021, the United States had 10.6 million job openings, an eye-popping 1.5 open jobs for every job seeker.
- Job turnover has reached new heights. In November 2021, the US Department of Labor reported 4.5 million workers quitting or changing their jobs—the highest number in history.
- Remote work has radically altered where and how work is performed, creating competition for talent across geographies.
The disruption in labor markets preceded the pandemic, but the pandemic tremendously accelerated the turmoil. Add to that, unemployment. The pandemic triggered an initial surge in unemployment, but the overall unemployment rate has largely returned to normal. The increase was driven in large part by countries such as the United States where the unemployment rate increased from 3.5% in February 2020 to 14.8% in April 2020.
Government agencies are now facing multiple pressures to develop workforce resilience:
- The pandemic and its enduring impact on the labor market.
- A rapidly changing technological landscape, with automation, AI, and digital technologies disrupting workers and industry alike.
- A growing need for an adaptable, resilient workforce to enable the economy to quickly react to rapid shocks.
Trends in action
Many jobs lost during the pandemic are not expected to come back. Researchers at the University of Chicago project that 32–42% of COVID-19–induced layoffs will be permanent. This means that despite a strong labor market, some workers will need to learn new skills for new careers. Many government agencies are enacting policies that equip people to adapt not only to new jobs but to entirely different fields. Six adaptive workforce shifts identified are:
- Shift 1: Government’s role in promoting alternative credentialing
- Shift 2: Job-centric upskilling
- Shift 3: Governments playing matchmaker
- Shift 4: Redefining employment for gig workers
- Shift 5: Infrastructure support to enable an adaptive workforce
- Shift 6: Adapting Higher Education
These workforce shifts require a new “Learning Turnkey Solution” for DOD and government agencies to provide programs that support their organization and various mission sets, while growing a multi-generational workforce. For this business sector, the most popular programs have been in Information Technology (IT) and Business-related credentials. Accelerated knowledge transfer using 3D or virtual training capabilities are also in demand to help deal with the shifts cited above.
At ProTrain, we realize that learning is a commitment that we are all making to have a better future. Our government clients’ needs are paramount. We are committed to your success and ours, one learner/employee at a time.