CIOs Have To Get Their Staff Ready For The Future

The digital future is coming, CIOs have to get their staff ready
The digital future is coming, CIOs have to get their staff ready

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The person with the CIO job needs to understand that the world that we are living in is constantly changing. What this means is that the staff that we have in our IT departments may have the right set of skills to accomplish their responsibilities right now, but as the world changes they may find themselves struggling to be successful. What can a CIO do to make sure that his staff will be able to be successful in the future?

Preparing For The Future

What CIOs need to start to do is to pay up to retrain workers as new technologies transform the workplace and companies struggle to recruit talent in one of the hottest job markets in decades. A good example of this is Amazon. They are the latest example of a large employer committing to help its workers gain new skills. The online retailer plans to spend $700 million over about six years to retrain a third of its U.S. workforce as automation, machine learning and other technology upends the way many of its employees do their jobs.

CIOs need to realize that companies as varied as AT&T, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Accenture have embarked on efforts to prepare workers for new roles. At a time of historically low unemployment, coupled with rapid digital transformation that requires high-tech job skills, more U.S. companies said they want to help their employees transition to new positions—and they have their bottom line squarely in focus. Many have concluded that they must coach existing staff to take on different types of work, or face a talent shortage. The person in the CIO position has to realize that we are at the beginning of the flood. We need to understand that we are basically just going back to a time where companies would invest in their own workforces.

The prospects for such retraining initiatives due to the importance of information technology remain uncertain. Many companies are assessing whether it is more economical to train their current workers or lay them off in favor of new hires with the needed skills. Those who have studied retraining programs said the “reskilling” can boost employee morale and keep workers from leaving a company, but that not everybody has the capacity or will to prepare themselves for a new role. Amazon’s promise to upgrade the skills of its workforce represents one of the biggest corporate retraining initiatives on record, and breaks down to about $7,000 per worker, or about $1,200 a year through 2025. By comparison, large employers with 10,000 workers reported spending an average of $500 per worker on training in 2017.

How To Create The Workforce Of Tomorrow

Amazon said it would retrain 100,000 workers in total by expanding existing training programs and rolling out new ones meant to help its employees move into more-advanced jobs inside the company or find new careers outside of it. The training is voluntary and mostly free for employees and won’t obligate participants to remain at Amazon, the Seattle-based company said. Hourly workers in fulfillment centers can retrain for IT support roles, such as managing the machines that operate throughout the facilities. For nontechnical corporate workers, there will be the chance to spend several years retraining as software engineers without going back to college.

CIOs understand that technology is changing our society, and it’s certainly changing work. The new training opportunities that we can provide to our staff should be viewed as a way to help workers prepare for “the opportunities of the future.” A challenge common to many corporate retraining efforts is predicting which skills will be needed even a few years in advance. CIOs need to understand that the game of picking winners means you often pick losers. Some of the programs offered by Amazon include more advanced training. Its Machine Learning University will be open to thousands of software engineers with computer-science backgrounds to take graduate-level machine-learning skills courses without going back to college.

As companies retrain workers, some find layoffs can be avoided. CIOs understand that the best thing you can do for somebody is layoff aversion. CIOs lose people every time there is a mass layoff. There’s a fraction of the staff that say: ‘I’m done, I can’t fit in this new world.’ Though Amazon’s training won’t carry a stipulation that employees remain with the company, experts say the program is likely to help retain staff. The ability to hold on to talent is important because recruiting new workers and training them is expensive and time-consuming. If you can maintain stability, you’re lowering your cost.

What All Of This Means For You

The world is changing and CIOs realize that they have an obligation to make sure that the company’s workforce is able to keep up with the changes. In order to make sure that the company can remain competitive, plans have to be created that will allow the workers to develop the skills that they will need to deal with the new world. How to go about doing this is a challenge that all CIOs are currently facing.

In order to retrain workers, CIOs are going to have to pay to make it happen. Amazon is planning on retraining a third of its U.S. workforce. Low unemployment, coupled with rapid digital transformation is forcing companies to find ways to get their current workers to have the skills that they will need to be successful in the future. Retraining workers can boost morale and cause people to stay. However, not all workers will respond well and some may end up leaving. Amazon’s retraining is voluntary and workers don’t have to stay at Amazon. One of the big challenges that CIOs are facing is trying to determine just exactly what training to offer to their workers.

Although worrying about protecting the company’s network and planning where the next application will be deployed are critical CIO issues, planning for the future also needs to be done. A company’s workers are the ones who will push and pull the company into the future. It is the CIOs responsibility to find ways to make sure that the people who are currently on board are able to update their skills so that they will be ready when tomorrow arrives.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How much of a CIO’s time should be spend worrying about how to train workers for the future?

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