Most associations say they don’t have initiatives to keep staff up to date on emerging technology. It’s not that they don’t want to, there are often other obstacles.

As technology races forward, organizations must evolve in tandem. Failing to do so risks letting once-crucial workplace skills fade into obsolescence.

For starters, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are reshaping the workforce, automating tasks previously performed by humans. That means reskilling is crucial to ensure employees can collaborate effectively with these technologies and remain relevant in a quickly changing workplace.

Easier said than done. The reality is, even though reskilling is important, there are many constraints for associations. According to an early-October text poll conducted by Avenue M, only 15 percent of associations said they have reskilling initiatives for staff to effectively keep pace and optimize the use of advancing technology. A majority, 81 percent, said they didn’t have an initiative, and 4 percent said they didn’t know or were unsure.

One association leader said, “Unfortunately, our organization focuses more on developing our programs than its people.” Another executive replied they didn’t have a good reason for not having one, adding, “Wish we could!” A CEO noted that they expect staff to keep up on their own, with the organization’s support, “not the other way around,” adding, “but it’s a good point for us to consider.”

Organizational size is also an issue. One CEO said, “We’re a staff of three. We all do a bit of everything. But if a staff member expresses interest in learning a new skill or other area of focus, we budget training dollars for that.” Another executive said they’re a “small organization with a deficit budget.” One CEO said, “We’re small and the staff engages in professional development in their area. Often the professional development includes building new skills in or adjacent to the staff member’s area.”

Notably, while many associations are not providing initiatives for staff to increase their technological skills, they are committed to continuing education (CE). Seventy-two percent of HR executives and CEOs said their organizations pay 100 percent of employees’ CE, according to a late-July ASAE and Avenue M Group text poll.

While it’s not always easy to fund and support staff reskilling, there are many benefits. For example, staying current with emerging technology gives associations the chance to offer innovative programs, services, and resources, which enhance the member experience and add value.

Members are also more likely to stay with an organization that adapts to the changing times. Associations often face competition from similar organizations, so embracing the latest technology can set them apart, giving them a competitive advantage.

Furthermore, investing in increasing staff technology skills boosts the organization’s bottom line by reducing the need for external hires or consultants to manage new technology developments.

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For more insights on increasing reskilling initiatives, read Avenue M’s quick summaries of the following resources, and click the links below.

The Importance of Reskilling in the Digital Transformation of the Corporate Environment

In today’s digital age, reskilling is vital for organizations to remain competitive. By investing in employee development, companies ensure they have the skills to adapt, meet customer needs, and boost productivity.

This isn’t just about staying up to date with technology, but it’s also about future-proofing the business. Whether through in-house training or external education support, reskilling should be a core element of any digital transformation strategy.

Rethinking Reskilling: Investing in Critical Skills vs. Critical Roles

The pandemic exposed the difficulties of future-proofing organizations. That’s why it’s essential to shift from focusing on roles to emphasizing skills. This will benefit employees and organizations, and it will promote talent exploration, agility, and resistance to career hopping. Rapidly evolving skills require dynamic training, and a skill-centric, adaptive model can address employee concerns about obsolescence.

In a post-pandemic world marked by job insecurities, companies must offer skill development opportunities. A PwC report found that 40 percent of workers fear their jobs will be obsolete in five years, with 77 percent saying they want to improve their skills.

Organizations that prioritize skill development enhance the employee experience and become more resilient by fostering an adaptable, skilled workforce.

Three Budget-Friendly Strategies for Staff Professional Development

In 2023, recruitment and retention remain critical for employers, and offering professional development opportunities is key for retaining talent. A recent study of 6,600 professionals worldwide revealed that 74 percent prefer organizations that invest in their education, and 80 percent believe that upskilling enhances their competitiveness in the job market.

Here are some ideas for professional development that won’t break the bank.

  • Make the most of online resources such as YouTube, LinkedIn Learning, and Ted Talks.
  • Explore job rotation to diversify employee experiences and skills.
  • Offer mentorship programs and prioritize internal transfers and promotions to recognize employee talents, reduce external recruitment costs, and foster career growth.

Internal transfers and promotions not only empower employees to learn new skills, advance their careers, and explore new fields, but they help reduce external recruitment costs while fostering a sense of value among staff.

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Contributors: Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE & Lisa Boylan
Image: Adobe Stock