Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle HCM Cloud shares her thoughts on reskilling employees for their AI promotion. It’s easy to be impressed by artificial intelligence’s significant role in simplifying and streamlining work. It’s the same reason many are afraid of AI: Will it lead to fewer jobs and human interaction? These fears are pervasive, but the reality is that when harnessed appropriately, AI does the exact opposite and (as counterintuitive as it may sound) can actually make work more human. Yes, artificially intelligent solutions can automate mundane tasks, save time and resources, and cut costs. But, the true benefit is that – thanks to AI eliminating rote tasks – employees now have the opportunity to up-level their roles, develop more complex and uniquely human skills, and lead more purpose-driven careers. In short: AI gives everyone a promotion! But no one can simply transform their career overnight, and new roles require new skillsets – which take both time and training. Employees need to learn how to operate and repair the technology that’s alleviating administrative tasks – not just to solve future issues, but also to help with adoption. After all, people are hesitant to embrace things they don’t understand. So, it may be surprising to hear that only 28% of organizations currently provide AI-related training. I expect that number to grow drastically in the coming years, especially with AI literacy as one of the fastest-growing skillsets according to LinkedIn, but this does pose an important question: Who is responsible for driving training initiatives in the era of AI – the employee or employer? I’d argue both.

Whose job is it anyway?

Employees now have the opportunity to self-automate parts of their job in order to be more strategic and increase the value they bring to the table. But none of this is possible without employee-level commitment to learn the skills needed for long-term success in their new roles. Ultimately, positive change can’t happen without a willingness to embrace that change. But even the most eager learners will face limitations if employers don’t fulfill their half of the bargain: to provide the resources necessary for willing employees to adapt in these changing times. Companies that invest in employees’ professional growth by offering reskilling and AI training opportunities will see dividends for years to come – higher employee retention rates, a more grateful and rewarding culture, increased workplace productivity and more strategic business outcomes.

That all sounds great, but how? 

While developing a training initiative may sound daunting, there are plenty of technology and educational resources available to help. No matter your company’s budget or bandwidth, there’s a program that works for everyone. Here are a few options:

1. Online learning platforms

Online learning platforms offer thousands of courses spanning nearly every sector – from technology skills like web development and AI, to soft skills like customer service and leadership. Better yet, these platforms offer users the ability to take courses at their own pace and in whatever format they prefer (written, video, mobile, etc.), so every employee feels enabled to succeed no matter what their learning style. Employers can get even more involved by leveraging HR technology solutions that integrate with these learning platforms. Take Oracle’s partnership with LinkedIn Learning, for example. Beyond the general content offered on LinkedIn Learning, companies using Oracle HCM Cloud can tailor courses to individual employees’ needs and goals, plus they will receive insight to how their employees are tracking on the reskilling journey.

2. Educational stipends

Another option is educational stipends – funds allotted for employees to seek out whatever form of training that appeals most to them. Whether it’s an industry conference, a professional workshop, or a night class at a local college, providing eager, self-driven employees with the financial resources to pursue “after hours” education will expedite closing the skills gap in a way that aligns with each person’s specific learning preferences. However, it’s important to note that educational stipends often require independent research, which can sometimes result in low employee participation levels. To ensure employees are reaping the full benefits of employer-sponsored stipends, HR teams and managers should assist in researching and flagging relevant learning opportunities, and encourage workers to take advantage of these funds.

3. Mentorship programs

Mentoring isn’t a new idea. In fact, 71% of Fortune 500 companies already offer mentorship programs. However, these programs have traditionally been designed for two people with similar career paths to learn from one another. However, the future of AI-enabled work demands that workers learn skills that those in their professional Rolodex don’t necessarily have. For instance, a database administrator may need to learn more strategic, soft skills, while a sales manager may need to learn how to operate and repair AI systems that relieve administrative work. So, rather than pairing two people with similar backgrounds, connect two unexpected individuals to see what they can learn from each other. Facilitating a cross-department mentorship program will give employees access and insights to resources they’ve never tapped before, but have always had right underneath their noses. And the best part: leveraging your existing employee base doesn’t cost a dime! The future of work is for employees to not just do their jobs, but to take their jobs to the next level and create a more meaningful workplace. But this future will only come to fruition if both employees and employers take the need for reskilling seriously. Companies that provide support for employees are ultimately creating a more engaged workforce, reducing employee turnover, and building a more strategic future for the business. Whether an employee is entry-level or part of the C-Suite, top-down support for continued learning today will be the defining factor in the success of companies tomorrow.

This article originaly appeared here: https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/digital-transformation/reskilling-your-employees-for-their-ai-promotion/