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2024 HR Trends: How to Balance Upskilling with Recruiting New Talent

No matter what type of organisation you’re in, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed the impact of technology on almost every system and process you have.  Our workforce is rapidly being reshaped ...

2024 HR Trends: How to Balance Upskilling with Recruiting New Talent

No matter what type of organisation you’re in, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed the impact of technology on almost every system and process you have. 

Our workforce is rapidly being reshaped by AI and technological advances, with roles slowly (or sometimes alarmingly quickly) becoming obsolete, and some segments of our workforce not having the skills they need to adapt to their changing position description.

The World Economic Forum calls it the ‘reskilling revolution’, and back in 2020, it predicted that half of the global labour force could need to reskill by 2025.

Despite these tight timelines, talent and skills remain one of the most under invested areas when businesses go through rapid transformational compressed transformation, according to Sunita Gloster, AM.

Sunita moderated ELMO’s recent panel discussion, Shaping the Future: 2024 HR & Recruitment Trends, where she led a discussion about the importance of recruitment and upskilling in a dynamically changing HR environment.

Sunita spoke with our expert panel of thought leaders:

  •     Emily McLeod, co-founder and director of WOW Recruitment
  •     Kate Wikinson, ELMO Software’s Chief People Experience Officer
  •     Keegan Luiters, team performance and leadership expert.

The balance between upskilling and hiring the right talent

Upskilling with Recruiting New Talent

It can be a challenge for organisations to strike the right balance between upskilling their current workforce and hiring the most appropriate talent to do a particular job. Deciding when to recruit and when to engage workers in specialised training is a conversation that needs to be had across HR and management, but that needle can also shift when there’s a skills shortage in play as well, as there has been in recent years.

Emily said there have been many substantial conversations on this topic, especially over the past 18 to 24 months.

“We’ve got talent shortages and we are all feeling it, and unemployment is still below pre-pandemic levels,” she said. “What we saw from data we collected recently was that there’s a huge appetite for employees to want to upskill.” 

WOW Recruitment’s recent survey found training and upskilling was the second-most popular non-financial benefit when people are thinking about whether they want to stay where they are or find a new job, so upskilling looks like a good move from all sides.

“We had something like 60% of people putting it down as their preference for what they’re looking for,” said Emily. “And that’s just personal development and career development.”

Emily pointed out that there is also a direct correlation between job satisfaction and people who have career progression available to them.

“We can see that if you, as an organisation, are investing in that and making sure that you are developing your own talent before going out to market, you are going to then retain that talent and have a more satisfied workforce,” said Emily.

“So people are definitely looking at that retain talent option and invest in what you’ve got because, to be quite frank, it’s harder to go out and attract and recruit talent.”

Delivering upskilling programs: the obstacles and challenges

While upskilling is an attractive option, delivering upskilling programs is not without its challenges. And Keegan summed up the main challenge in one word: integration. 

“How do people integrate their learning into their days, their weeks, their months, or their years?” he asked. “How does learning not feel like that course that I went on and have got the workbook for, or whatever, and how do I see that stuff that I’ve done changing the things that I’m doing in my job?”

Keegan said it’s one of his great hopes that people start helping to blur the line between working and learning while at work, and that we’ll shift the idea of what learning is to being something that is ongoing and part of our work.

Learning is about so much more than just acquiring new information, Keegan told the group. Knowing it’s a healthier option to eat fruit and vegetables, and go out for a 5km run isn’t enough to make most people do it.

“It comes down to integration,” said Keegan. “How do we make learning a part of our work?”


This type of upskilling can be formal or informal, but Keegan said, “It’s very difficult for people to learn without having some sort of reflective practices and they can be really easy and really simple.”

In a 2022 interview, golfer Tommy Fleetwood said one of the practices that has made him a world-class player was that he analyses his play at the end of every day, but always finishes on a positive note. 

Keegan, a self-confessed ‘golf tragic’, said this is a helpful practice we could all bring into our work days.

“Think about the three best things you did today at work,” he advised. “That’s a reflective practice.

“Think about the best thing you did this week. Think about one thing you want to do better tomorrow. These are all little reflective practices that take a small amount of time and then compound and develop a muscle for yourself to be learning.” 

Keegan said this can also lead to conversations in your team, which can, in turn, lead to developing a learning culture. 

How leaders can foster a culture of continuous learning

With that in mind, how can leaders genuinely foster a culture of continuous learning? Kate offered several ideas.

“I think the business needs to give space and permission to employees,” she said.

ELMO is about to start offering its workforce an Educate Day, with everyone downing tools in order to learn.

“It can be on Zoom or face-to-face, but it’s a chance for the workforce to mingle,” she said. “The business is giving every employee the permission to stop running on the hamster wheel and take time to actually learn.

“We use our performance management system to record the individual development goals and the related competencies. So, there’s a guide in terms of what an individual needs to get out of that day, but we are going to launch that next quarter and it’s going to be fun.”

Kate says silos will be removed, if there are any, and the goal of Educate Day is to build connections and increase the appetite for learning.

ELMO’s powerful technology helps HR leaders to embed a learning culture into their business. ELMO’s Learning Management System allows users to build personalised learning plans for employees while curating the right professional development to close critical skills gaps.

Plus, when combined with ELMO Performance Management, managers can create clear links between learning and career development goals. The holistic HRIS platform brings all of your essential HR processes together into one secure platform.

Fostering new talent in a world of AI

With AI now firmly a part of our working life, there is concern across the HR industry about how new talent can get started in their chosen industry, given that it’s the entry-level tasks where AI is most useful.

Emily said the main change she’s been seeing is lower quality across the board in entry-level talent that are applying for jobs.

“That could be for a variety of reasons,” she said. “It could be because the roles are changing, and because AI is taking some of the roles.

Emily cited call centres as an example of an industry going through great change.

“Everyone’s going for an AI-first approach,” she said. “They think by 2025, 90% of contact centres – when you call in, you won’t deal with a human, you’ll deal with AI. So that starts to take a lot of the entry level roles, and so they are shifting and they’re changing.”

One way that challenge is being countered is through entry-level trainee programs, Emily told the panel.

“We’re seeing more graduate programs coming through and more entry level trainee programs where they then place them into the roles after the program,” she said. “Companies have more of an appetite for that now than what they would have before, but the real challenge is that for many of these entry level roles, the salaries have just gone through the roof.  

“So there’s an imbalance between salary expectations and the talent coming through. And I think that’s also what businesses are feeling when trying to hire for those entry level roles.”

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