Most people’s ideas of reskilling sounds a lot like recycling.
“Reskill” implies that you look at people like robots that you can update by pushing some buttons. Our people have the wrong skills, so let’s reboot and recycle them into something better. It’s actually dehumanizing. You can tell because the term reskilling is seldom used to talk about individuals; rather, it’s used to refer to workforces of thousands.
Reskilling is a popular concept in the learning and development world. But it’s an old-fashioned concept that’s disconnected from the reality of how people learn. It’s the right goal: a skilled workforce ready to take on the challenges of a new era, but it’s not the right means. It’s too top-down and too generic.
Re-educating a global workforce will take more than slick software or a “Netflix for Learning” interface. It’s a serious undertaking that requires a budget, focus, and at least three to five years of work. Reskilling doesn’t work because it implies a quick fix; in reality, the only way to move forward is to build a new corporate culture that prioritizes learning.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at some common illusions around reskilling.