Relocation of Companies / Talent: the importance of Upskilling Local Workforce
As more multinational corporations and local technology companies in Cyprus look to promote local hires to grow their operations and scale up, the importance in knowledge transfer and establishing and training new teams is crucial both for the companies, and the country to develop a sustainable economic model and growth.
Cyprus today faces a major challenge: the current economic model of the country is based on four main pillars:
Professional and financial services,
Shipping & Maritime.
Two out of the four major pillars of the Cypriot economy, received a major hit. Real estate due to bad reputation caused by a passport-related scheme and negative publications, and tourism due to the Covid-19 situation that is affecting this sector internationally.
For the sustainable economic growth of the Cyprus economy, the introduction of a new emerging sector that will contribute to the creation of a new pillar for the economy is crucial. The relocation and the expansion of operations of international technology companies already operating in Cyprus is in this direction, and in order to achieve that, the available talent in Cyprus needs to be reskill and upskill its competences, as the supply and demand gap for personnel with new and advanced skills is rapidly widening not only nationally but also internationally. According to research done by SHRM in 2019, showed that nearly 80% of corporations CEOs said they were concerned about the workplace skills gap — a percentage that went up from just 56% in 2011. From digitalisation to robots, AI and machine learning, technology is completing repetitive tasks, making some jobs obsolete. But again, it’s not eliminating workers, but on the contrary. In fact, these new technologies are creating new jobs, which require people with the right skills — and of course this is where reselling and upskilling initiatives are coming in.
Upskilling is a strategy that focuses on the ongoing learning and development of employees. Companies who invest in upskilling training programs help their employees develop new abilities to keep pace with shifting market dynamics. These training opportunities can also help displaced workers gain the necessary skills to fill in-demand jobs and re-enter the workforce.
Many companies (and we have the example of Amazon that invested more than $700m to upskill its employees) have already started offering reskilling, upskilling and continuous learning courses to their employees in order to provide them with the necessary skills that will allow them to reach full potential and career growth, and at the same time these employees will contribute to the success of the company.
In our case, a number of international companies that are based and operating in Cyprus, in order to fill the skill gap of the local workforce in certain professions, are relocating professionals to the island, which are contributing a major role in the upskilling of the local workforce that are associated and working with. These relocated professionals are vital to the faster growth of the company as they bring in the necessary knowledge in order to achieve that, and at the same time are valuable assets in the process of providing and transferring their expertise to the current workforce. Therefore, the State needs to work on the ease and facilitation of the growth of the companies, which is highly associated with identifying and relocating the necessary personnel.
But it is not only the companies that need to step up on this strategy. Recently, a growing number of countries have engaged with initiatives to empower citizens with digital skills and various national frameworks that have been established in order to support reselling and upskilling. Studies have indicated that AI is likely to change operations in many different industries and work tasks at a fast pace in the coming years. According to a McKinsey's report, approximately 40% of all work tasks could be automated with artificial intelligence by 2030.
Anticipating and addressing the skills development has become crucial for governments aiming to adapt to change. In Finland, the government introduced free online courses on Artificial Intelligence. In Singapore, the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme was launched by the Minister of Education. Its goals aim to equip with basic digital skills and to encourage employers to invest in job-specific skills training for their employees. In Denmark, the Ministry of Employment has established a Disruption Council with an agenda of investing in future possibilities of tomorrow’s tech. In the UK, the government invested 20 million UK pounds in the Institute of Coding in order to boost future skills in the country. And the examples of other countries are increasing at a fast pace.
In this respect, and also to cope with the continuous competition, the Government of Cyprus needs to go ahead with interventions regarding the reskilling and upskilling of the local talent. The fact that Cyprus managed to achieve funding from the Recovery and Resilience Fund mechanism regarding the Action Plan for E-Skills is in the right direction, but a fast move from the Government in order to implement and deploy programs and trainings targeting the tech-related personnel, will have multiple benefits:
Strengthen the technology ecosystem
Strengthen Cyprus’s position regarding tech talent
Enable companies to relocate to Cyprus and existing companies to expand their operations
Contribute to the tech-talent pool.
Upskilling and reskilling may open new doors for employees in the Technology sector. Many have been able to conceive ideas during these sessions and have successfully been able to convert them into projects. Trainees receive stimulations during these learning sessions, which can create immense passion within them to pursue these topics for further research and career growth.
Disruptions in business because of technology have made human beings more dynamic too. Although machines are replacing humans in mundane jobs, there is a shortage of talented employees who are acquainted with these machines and technologies. Clearly, it is time for all parts: Government, companies and employees to reskill and upskill to bridge the gaps in the Technology sector.
by Marios Giorgoudis - General Manager at TechIsland