Pre-skilling: Future-Proofing Workforces

What do big data, smart sensors, autonomous robots, Internet of Things (IoT), predictive analytics, augmented reality, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) all have in common?

The answer: Industry 4.0.

Those phrases represent just a sliver of the terms, concepts, and ideologies being woven into the tapestry of the employment future.

With the digital transformation, referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, currently underway in most companies’ internal operations, production processes, customer integrations, and more, the critical question employers are asking is, “How can we prepare our workforce for jobs that don’t yet exist?” One solution gaining momentum in the workplace is known as “pre-skilling.”

What is Pre-Skilling?

You’ve likely heard of re-skilling and up-skilling, but what about pre-skilling?

While the more commonly known practices of re-skilling and up-skilling are designed to bridge digital divides within companies through employee training that either delivers a new set of skills or enhances existing skills, pre-skilling is focused on the horizon.

Specifically, the knowledge, capabilities, and skills that will be necessary to keep business operations competitive long into the unforeseeable future.

Companies that add pre-skilling initiatives to their management strategy will reap the rewards of being proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to dealing with inevitable change that is coming … and already here.

What Are the Benefits of Pre-Skilling?

As with any form of employee training, pre-skilling should translate into measurable bottom-line benefits. The caveat is that with pre-skilling, those benefits will take the form of a future (rather than immediate) return on investment.

There is no denying that major technological change is already making waves in the workplace while also casting uncertainty upon employee roles of the future. Online shopping, e-commerce, and automated warehouse operations represent just a few of the endless settings where the digital revolution is making its mark.

Understandably, there is much concern regarding how jobs will evolve and what will be required of tomorrow’s workforce to keep pace with those changes.

But this is precisely why acting today to plant roots of resourceful proficiency and enduring competency in existing talent will help employers stay ahead of change.

Utilizing the concepts of pre-skilling today will help:

  • Build awareness in employees regarding a company’s future skills needs
  • Strengthen the foundation of a company’s existing workforce
  • Empower employees to evaluate and achieve personal career goals

Thinking about your employees in terms of what they could do down the road puts your workplace of the future in a whole new perspective.

How Pre-Skilling Can Help Cultivate Workers for Tomorrow

While the jobs of tomorrow may not yet exist, pursuing pre-skilling practices now will help ensure that your company has the right people on board in the years to come.

Prioritize soft skills

When hiring and promoting employees, tune into such personal qualities as curiosity, adaptability, empathy, and resilience.

After all, navigating the workplace of the future will require employees who can be open-minded, good listeners, flexible, and creative as they collaborate with others to generate effective solutions for complex challenges.

Foster life-long learning

Tap into your employees’ passions, interests, and abilities. Remember that pre-skilling doesn’t necessarily relate to the jobs they are doing today, but instead will connect to the emerging technologies and innovations they will encounter on the road ahead.

As a bonus, training employees in a way that helps propel them toward their personal career ambitions can boost staff retention.

Rethink conventional standards

As Generation Z moves up in workforce ranks, many workers will have different needs and expectations from their Baby Boomer, Gen X, and Millennial predecessors.

This calls for a new approach from employers building the infrastructure for their operations’ sustained success.

For example, consider blending degreed hiring with skills-based hiring. Some companies are even opting to ditch their degree requirement for employees in favor of people who exhibit hard and soft skills, show initiative and responsibility, are effective communicators, and are willing to learn – all crucial components of pre-skilling.

This applies to hiring job candidates and promoting existing employees alike.

Reinforce Your Company’s Foundation for the Future

Today’s business environment is dynamic, fluid, and ever-changing.

The ability to curate a workforce with a versatile skillset will help businesses stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive, relevant, and adaptable.

For companies to maximize their pre-skilling efforts, they might consider enhancing their workplace environments by:

  • Developing a solid management strategy
  • Creating a positive workplace culture
  • Encouraging life-long growth and learning
  • Fostering employee purpose
  • Promoting and developing future leaders

Pre-skilling really comes down to anticipating future market needs while also creating conditions and providing tools that help employees live up to their true potential.

Because while the power of technology will forever amaze, inspire, and elevate our world, human talent will always be the true key to ultimate success.



About Equiliem

Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive. 

Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.

Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.