Future of Work: Should employers reskill existing employees or hire new talent?

Noorjit Sidhu, future of work investor at Plug & Play, reached out after seeing my LinkedIn post about joining Catalyte and how reskilling ties to my parents’ immigration story. He wanted to connect over the future of work. We jumped on a fun phone call and Noorjit followed-up with a list of questions for me. Being the (proud) nerd I am, I’m excited to write up my answers and share them with you in a Future of Work Series. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

NS: AT&T, Amazon, JPMorgan, and Accenture all recently committed to retraining their employees. In what scenarios do you think it makes sense to internally retrain/upskill, versus hire new talent into the company?

LT: Well, let’s first take a look at what AT&T, Amazon, JPMorgan, and Accenture are doing and why they’re reskilling their employees. AT&T, to address tech talent gaps, avoid high turn-over costs and to stay competitive, is spending a billion dollars on retraining nearly half of its workforce through its Future Ready program. Amazon pledged to spend over $700 million to reskill 100,000 employees by 2025 for in-demand tech jobs. JP Morgan pledged to invest $350 million to create “career economic opportunit[ies …], career mobility” and to help to address their tech “future workplace skill needs.” Accenture is spending a billion dollars on its reskilling initiative, Job Buddy, and has so far retrained an estimated 300,000 employees. They’re doing it for the purpose of retention and tech future-proofing of their workforce. AT&T, Amazon, JPMorgan, and Accenture are all investing in upskilling to make sure they produce the tech talent they need (and will need) to keep their companies resilient and profitable.

In all scenarios — where enterprise companies want to stay competitive, address growing tech talent needs (when the supply is low and demand is growing) and want to avoid billions in costs associated with turnover, layoffs and hiring — it makes sense for companies to invest in internal reskilling employee initiatives. In the short-term, while companies figure out how to reskill effectively and sustainably, there will be a need for external hiring. That is, until that’s not an option.

Side-note: For smaller companies, outside of the enterprise, internal reskilling initiatives may not be cost-effective. I would recommend that smaller companies do what they can to encourage their employees to continue learning and building up their skills for the future of work.

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About Lolita Taub
Lolita Taub is the chief of staff at Catalyte, a TEDx speaker and an AI enthusiast, with a venture capital and enterprise tech background. She is a Venture Partner at NexGen, an LP at Portfolia’s Enterprise Fund and a former VC at Backstage Capital and K Fund. Lolita holds nearly a decade of enterprise B2B software, hardware and services sales experience at IBM, Cisco Systems and in Silicon Valley. She has a BA from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the IE Business School. Lolita has been recognized for her work on Forbes, Inc.com, The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com among other publications.

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