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Three keys to building a more skilled postpandemic workforce

Many companies face large, and growing, skills deficits. A few companies approach skill building in a more integrated way—and are quietly gaining an edge on rivals

Source | | Jutta Bodem-Schrötgens | Angelika Reich | Bill Schaninger | Kartik Sharma

The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent move to hybrid working models have accelerated the need for new workforce skills. Fifty-eight percent of respondents to our recent global survey said that closing skills gaps has become a higher priority since the pandemic began, and 69 percent said their companies engage in more skill building than they did before the crisis.

Intriguingly, the skills companies prioritize most are leadership and managing others, critical thinking and decision making, and project management (Exhibit 1). This suggests that in addition to wanting to be more employee centric, organizations are still coming to grips with the new ways of working forced on them by the virus.

The challenges will only grow. For example, we estimate that demand for social and emotional skills (ones that machines can’t master) will increase 25 percent in the United States alone over the next decade, compared with a previously expected rise of 18 percent (see sidebar, “A software company gets emotional”). And research from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that 107 million workers may need to switch occupations by 2030—up 12 million from a prepandemic estimate.

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