26 APRIL, 2021


Covid-19 forced businesses and employees to change how they work almost overnight. Organisations had to pivot services and adapt operating models to support a remote workforce and employees had to learn how to adapt to ever-changing circumstances while rapidly learning and applying new skills.

The pandemic has demonstrated that for the foreseeable future, instability and uncertainty will be the norm. The operating models established during the pandemic have quickly become the foundation for long-term operation.

With that comes a need to support workers in properly developing the skills that they began sharpening over the past year. During the pandemic, the approach was quick and dirty, now it is essential for organisations to develop a strategic approach to learning and development that will enable the business to thrive, rather than just simply survive.

Why L&D is more important now than ever before.

Continuous learning will be the backbone of a prepared workforce. Employees who know how to learn and how to apply their learnings, will be much better equipped to successfully manage unexpected situations or future disruptions. Likewise, organisations that focus on interpersonal capabilities like achieving teamwork in the workplace can successfully adapt and thrive in dynamic business environments.

Rapid acceleration calls for skills realignment.

Never before have businesses and workers been forced to adapt and upskill in such a rapid way. Many of the most forward-thinking and agile organisations, were at least five years away from being fully prepared for a remote or floating workforce. With the rapid adoption of technology and acceleration of automation projects, new skill needs have come online and gaps have been highlighted. Learning and development programs will be essential in ensuring that workers capabilities are realigned for the workforce of the future with digital literacy, interpersonal skills and critical thinking top of the list.

Organisations will have a bigger role to play in mental wellbeing.  

One thing is clear – ongoing uncertainty is a certainty. Here in Victoria, we’ve felt the impact of extended lock-downs and fluctuating restrictions from one week to the next. Leaders noticed the toll this has had on people’s mental wellbeing. From a managerial and leadership perspective there is a need to develop emotional intelligence and an ability to empathetically support team members. Traditionally these skills have not been a focus for organisations, but now and in the future they will need to be a core part of L&D programs.

Human-centred capabilities taking centre stage.

Businesses now know that it is likely that future disruption will occur and this is their opportunity to equip their workforce with the tools to respond in a cohesive way. In addition to having the right processes and technical tools, a resilient workforce will depend on people having a good sense of self-awareness, ability to emotionally-regulate, to develop positive relationships, adaptive mindsets, and a connection to purpose. Again, many of these capabilities have climbed up the priority list post-pandemic, and L&D functions need to ensure that is reflected in the training.


  1. Identify the business-critical capabilities your future workforce depends on. Leaders must understand which core capabilities and skills will have the greatest collective impact on their future business. For example, some organisations have hundreds of competencies identified that they are spending time and resources on developing, when in fact just a handful of these may account for 70% or more of the productivity and agility required for the future. That handful is what the organisation needs to focus on as a priority.
  2. Audit your workforce. To determine the future-readiness of their workforce, leaders will need to establish a baseline of existing capabilities within the business. To do this properly, leaders must look at the individual, not their job title. There is an untapped well of talent within most organisations because up until now people’s potential has only been assessed by the job they do today, and not all of the skills and talents they may have developed on or off the job.
  3. Profile existing capabilities against future workforce needs and identify the gaps. To identify the existing gaps, organisations will need to map out their workforce 2 to 5 years ahead against the identified core capabilities. Again leaders are urged to do this by capability and not job role. In future there will be a shift towards project-based teams with individuals being brought in not for their job title but for their capabilities.
  4. Upskill in order of priority based on the most glaring needs.  DeakinCo.’s research has shown that 70% of all future job profiles in the non-technical area will be made up of human-centred capabilities. Organisations are encouraged to focus their immediate L&D efforts on developing the capabilities that together will drive the majority of their future workforce.
  5. Issue micro-credentials as formal validation. Workers go through an assessment process and are issued with a micro-credential to formally recognise an existing or newly acquired capability. Micro-credentials can then be added to employee profiles as an easy way to track the capability strength within the organisation and to identify the right people for the right projects.
  6. Establish a capabilities index that gives you a bird’s eye-view of your organisation’s reskilling efforts. Future-focussed organisations are moving towards a model where people will be able to work in multiple roles based on their core capabilities, rather than in a single vertical determined by their degree or technical discipline. By establishing a capabilities index which is supported through micro-credentialing, organisations will enable powerful internal talent mobility. The benefits of this model are huge. By redeploying knowledgeable and valuable talent within the business, businesses will significantly reduce redundancies and improve retention rates.

To discuss your workforce capability mapping requirements please contact Angela Girton at angela.girton@www.deakinco.com