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That’s a Wrap: The Top 10 Resources of 2019 for Upskilling Your Workforce

As I look back on 2019, I think about what a year it’s been for companies who are in the middle of major digital transformations, facing the challenge of upskilling and reskilling the workforce of the future. I spend much of my time speaking about and doing research on the future of learning and work, which leads me to countless resources related to this topic. 

There’s an overwhelming amount of content available, and as busy professionals, it’s often difficult to keep up with all the new research, papers, and trends. So instead of sifting through pages of search results and email blasts, I’m bringing you the top 10 resources I’ve found to be most helpful and that have influenced my thinking the most this year. These articles, podcasts, research papers, and books are extremely relevant as we think about upskilling and reskilling the workforce to prepare for the future. 

These resources share a common theme of challenging the status quo, daring us to think beyond outdated ideas to reimagine what’s possible, and offering the motivation to start putting some of these ideas into action.

Redefine Work

1. Redefine Work: The Untapped Opportunity for Expanding Value, Deloitte

This research was conducted by the Center for the Edge, a Deloitte think tank that generates ideas to help make sense of the emerging opportunities on the edges of business and technology. What I love most about this report is the idea that we not only need to think about skills for the jobs of today, but also fundamentally re-imagine the future of work. The trends of automation, digitization, and acceleration are dramatically changing the way we work, learn, and live. Find the full report here

The Future of Work in America

2. The Future of Work in America, McKinsey

McKinsey has several features on the future of work and automation. This report stands out to me as it offers predictions for jobs, skills, and wages up to the year 2030. Find the full report here

The Rise of Learning Tech Ecosystems

3. The Rise of Learning Tech Ecosystems, RedThread Research 

In this RedThread Research report, Dani Johnson and her team identify the two main priorities for businesses around the future of work: companies need results and employees want a better experience. These ideas don’t need to be mutually exclusive; in fact, the most successful technologies are driving their vision with both of these goals in mind. Find the full report here.

How the Workforce Learns in 2019

4. How the Workforce Learns, Degreed and Harvard Business Publishing 

Degreed, where I’m Chief Learning Officer, recently conducted this research with Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning to produce the latest report on the status of corporate learning strategies and technologies. It offers valuable insights on how the workforce is really learning every day and the results may surprise you.

If we consider this data when developing our upskilling and reskilling strategies, it can help us broaden our definition of learning (hint: it’s more than just classroom lectures) and understand how learning really happens. Some of the data indicates that as leaders, we need to give more autonomy to employees while still providing guidance on what skills will be most important to companies and organizations in the short term. The report also highlights why developing internal talent is the long run is good for both employees and companies. Download our full report here

The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness

5. End Of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness, Todd Rose

Todd Rose, Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education department at Harvard, challenges the status quo of training systems in his book, The End of Average. He argues that while no person is truly average, all the systems within businesses and societies are structured around this notion of an “average” person. This is one of the most influential books I’ve read in the past few years. It questions the validity of ideas such as grading systems, performance management models, and productivity measurement, claiming that they are not only largely arbitrary but incredibly de-motivating to us as humans. Purchase the book here

The surprising truth about what motivates us

6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink 

This is not a new book, I know. But it’s more relevant than ever as one of the biggest challenges of our time is to understand human motivation when it comes to learning and building skills. The three pillars that the author, Daniel Pink, describes (autonomy, mastery, and purpose) should be a mantra for anyone looking to understand how we can really help people become lifelong, continuous learners. Purchase the book here


7. HBR IdeaCast, Harvard Business Review

My favorite podcast right now is HBR IdeaCast. There are new episodes weekly, featuring leading thinkers in business and management. You can find the podcast here and I’ve listed a few of my favorite episodes of 2019: 

Mindset: the new psychology of success

8. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck

Again, this is not a new book, and many of you are familiar with Carol Dweck’s work, but this is critical reading if you are aiming to create a culture of learning at your company. CEOs are completely transforming company cultures by adopting the notion of a growth mindset and cascading those ideas to every level of the organization. The theory of the “growth mindset” claims that you can learn anything at any time during your life and your career if you believe that you can and encourages the idea of being a “learn-it-all” rather than a “know-it-all.” Purchase the book here

Why Companies are Failing at Reskilling

9  Why Companies are Failing at Reskilling, Wall Street Journal

This WSJ article addresses the importance of reskilling your existing workforce rather than trying to find talent externally, and when to know the difference. Technology and a great skills strategy can make this effort successful; it can also increase employee morale and engagement. It is a win-win for employees and companies. Find the full article here

Jobs of Tomorrow: LinkedIn's 2020 Emerging Jobs Report

10. Jobs of Tomorrow: LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report

This is the third annual emerging jobs report from LinkedIn and hot off the press for 2020. These are the three main ideas the report explores:

  1. Artificial Intelligence as an area of expertise
  2. Workers continue to demand remote work and flexible working environments 
  3. Soft skills (or what I like to call “Power Skills”) are some of the most important skills to foster in the future workforce as automation takes over more routine tasks 

Power skills are those that are uniquely human and include skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Find the full report here.

Now for my favorite part: Let’s hear from you! What resources have inspired you to change your processes or thinking in 2019? Tweet your answers to us @degreed. And find all of the above resources in our full Degreed Pathway here.

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