Most organisations are undergoing a digital transformation that directly impacts how they do business, but 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, and 80% of employees do not have the skills needed for their current and future roles, according to Gartner.

“More than two-thirds of business leaders believe that if their company does not become significantly digitalised by 2020, it will no longer be competitive,” says Brian Kropp, group vice-president of Gartner’s HR practice.

As companies look at what it will take to digitalise their operations, many HR leaders see there is a significant skills gap. In fact, 64% of managers don’t think their employees are able to keep pace with future skill needs.

The most effective way for HR leaders to help employees keep pace with shifting skill needs is by building connected learners.

To build connected learners, organisations are advised to evolve their approach to employee development across several key fronts:

* Skills identification: Instead of trying to keep up with leader requests, leading companies are capturing the skills shifts in the market and determining the most pressing skill needs for employees across the organisation.

* Employee motivation: Rather than just communicating skills requirements, employees need to understand how they can personally grow by developing the skills the organisation needs.

* Learning solutions: Providing self-service development options can overwhelm employees; leading organisations are brokering quality development experiences to accelerate new skill development.

According to Gartner research, building connected learners, as opposed to continuous, increases employee skills preparedness by 28% to 39% across the three main areas of employee development.

Additionally, employees who are connected learners are eight times more likely to be high performers.

“In order to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world, companies must transform the skills of their workforce, both on a macro level by determining the skills their market and clients are calling for, and on a micro level, by showing employees the personal benefit to upskilling and offering experiences for them to do so,” says Sari Wilde, vice-president of Gartner’s HR practice.