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Boosting Skills in EMEA and APAC: Challenges and Opportunities

The supply of talent with in-demand skills varies greatly across regions and countries. Demographics, culture, education systems, regulatory policies, and prevailing markets all influence how companies cultivate talent in their locations. Below is a sampling of skills and workforce development challenges being addressed around the world.

Digital Skills are Top of Mind in the United Kingdom

When it comes to the total investment in employee education in Europe, the United Kingdom (UK) ranks 22nd while Belgium, France, and The Netherlands lead the way. A 2018 Salesforce study found that workers in the UK desire a development focus that looks beyond traditional university degrees to include all learning types. Sixty-three percent believe the development of technology skills would have a positive impact on their company’s overall efficiency, and 37 percent think they will be locked out of future jobs without further technical education. The takeaway: digital skills are top of mind in the region, and companies need to provide development opportunities if they are going to retain their best workers.

Apprenticeships Strong in Germany, Yet Talent Gap Predicted  

A mixed picture of historic workforce success and future challenges is influencing the German workforce today. Contributing to Germany’s strong workforce are apprenticeship-focused approaches to learning. One example is dual vocational training that lets students choose from more than 350 areas of study and participate in a two- to a three-year program. Instructional training at a vocational school combines with on-the-job learning at a company to provide a complete experience.

At the same time, McKinsey predicts that Germany will experience a gap of 700,000 workers for future technical skills and 2.4 million workers for cross-disciplinary fields by 2024. Examples of government-led activities to address the issue include identifying occupations being impacted by digitization and enabling partnerships between businesses and federal and state governments to implement new training programs and provide training facilities. In addition, programs are in place to introduce advanced digital classrooms for IT training in schools. A broad approach to preparing for a digital work environment of the future will help Germany rise to the challenge of the looming skills gap.


France Obligated to Train Workers

Since the 1970s, companies in France have been legally obligated to provide training to employees. Today, workers are entitled to training based on their tenure with the employer. This training can range up to 150 hours per year. Training must lead to an established professional qualification across more than 40,000 certification programs.

Eastern Europe Experiences Talent Shortage

According to the World Economic Forum, Eastern Europe is experiencing challenges across nearly all industries due to a shortage of available talent. Automotive, travel and tourism, energy, financial services, healthcare, oil and gas, and professional services all require a focus on talent development to remain competitive. The Forum’s 2018 survey found 31 percent of the workforce needs between one and 12 months of reskilling to become current in their fields, and another nine percent need more than a year to upgrade their capabilities. Seventy-two percent of employers surveyed expect to retrain their employees in the future.

India Launches Programs to Promote Education

The 2018 Allegis Group Global Workforce Trends report highlighted the skills gap in India and the growing focus on education to help address that gap: “To address the need for new skills, India’s government has launched some programs to promote education, including the Skill India initiative, which aims to train 400 million people by 2022. Since its inception in 2015, Skill India has trained more than 11.7 million people. In India, companies are likely to take a growing role in the training and upskilling of their own workforces, but they will be challenged to keep those workers from emigrating elsewhere for better opportunities.

China Faces New Skills Demands 

In China, the economy is moving away from its emphasis on manufacturing for global export and shifting to a more technology, innovation, and services focus that will require a new level of skill among its workers. An IBM study found that 80 percent of Chinese executives say technological advances are reshaping demand for skills. The Chinese government recognizes this need and has pushed for subsidized training and the development of private vocational schools. Today, the country has several strategies in place to upskill its workforce, including corporate, private partnerships, on-the-job training programs, and a Smart Learning Institute devoted to developing education technology to improve the quality of education and expand the capacity for research.

Leaders in Australia Commit to Skills Development

A 2018 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that 75 percent of Australian CEOs are concerned about the availability of skills needed for their businesses, and 54 percent believe they are responsible for retraining employees whose tasks and jobs were automated by technology advances. The same study recognizes an emphasis on boosting both human skills (e.g., learning, communication, and management) and digital skills associated with emerging technologies. The country is committed to such skills development, with a Vocational Education and Training sector that includes 3.8 million students, compared to 1.3 million in traditional higher institutions. A push for hard and soft skills will be needed to support growth in areas such as mining, healthcare, and professional services sectors.

A Common Challenge Across All Regions

The conditions driving talent scarcity across regions may vary by industry and country, but the need for skills is accelerating nearly everywhere. Automation is global, and so is the need for workers to adjust to the changes it brings. Businesses and governments are partnering to address skills demands with varying levels of commitment, but those that equip the workforce for continuous learning will likely enjoy a competitive advantage in the global economy of the future.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in a white paper titled, “Cultivating Skills to Build the Talent Pipelines of Tomorrow.” Download your free copy today. 

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    Written by Rob Thompson
    Rob has 20 years of experience developing thought leadership in all aspects of workforce strategy. Through his writing and industry expertise, he has helped organizations bring their insights to the market in multiple fields, including workforce technologies, RPO, MSP and total workforce strategies. In addition, he has experience driving brand development and messaging for growing organizations in information technology, consumer and non-profit verticals.