Upskilling has gained a tremendous amount of traction in the U.S. over the last few years. Companies across practically all industries recognized the importance of helping employees learn new skills to meet the rapidly changing needs of the digitally-driven, ever-evolving business environment. The Covid-19 global pandemic has served to accelerate the trend, especially in the banking and financial services category where new ways of working and serving customers will be put in place at a rapid pace in the coming months.

The Need for Upskilling

Indeed, recent surveys and articles about how the banking workforce will shape up following Covid-19 confirm that the global pandemic has heightened a challenge that the industry has faced going back several years: a significant digital skills gap. According to research earlier this year conducted by the Digital Banking Report and sponsored by OpenText, 75% of the close to 300 financial services industry executives who responded “feel there has been minimal or no progress in upskilling for digital or technical needs.” 

Simply put, many banks were already repositioning or even reinventing their approach to customer service to best serve customers, whether customers preferred conducting transactions and seeking guidance through various digital channels or by visiting their local branches. Now, finding that balance—and ensuring that employees are equipped to deliver on it—is more important than ever.

An article earlier this year from McKinsey & Company about the banking workforce after Covid-19 highlighted the need for training, including upskilling, stating that “talent remains the biggest assets and source of capital for all institutions, and the challenge many are facing is how to quickly skill their team members to meet this demand in a contactless environment.” In this context, upskilling was defined as a way to “expand the nature of existing roles to encompass new skills and activities moving forward.”

At TalentBridge, we encourage recruiters to work closely with clients to understand the needs and requirements, in both the short- and long-term, of each position we fill. Recognizing the essential responsibility of preparing employees to optimize their effectiveness given the dynamic nature of the changing workforce and economy, we formed a Talent Advisory Services division several years ago to do just that.  

A key strategy we employ is to conduct comprehensive assessments of both a candidate’s (or current employee’s) skills as they exist today and as they need to be upgraded in the future. Part of that process also involves determining which new skills an employee is most likely to be successful with over time. For example, will an employee excel at learning new technical capabilities or subject matter expertise to serve in more of an advisory role than a traditional customer service role. The results of these processes are then used us develop the right strategies and tactics to help candidates and employees achieve the right professional development and growth.

As banks continue to move forward through a period of unprecedented transformation, assessing, hiring, and (constantly) training the right talent is essential to their success, today and tomorrow.