- AT&T, recently voted one of Forbes' 100 Best Employees to Work For, has taken on the task of retraining 100,000 members (nearly one-third) of its current global workforce, Forbes reports. AT&T says part of the reason behind the initiative is to ensure that its employees' skills will not be obsolete in the next 10 years.
- Much of that potential for skills disruption is caused by consumer use of mobile phones and data plans; data usage among AT&T customers alone grew 250,000% since the iPhone was introduced to the market in 2007. The company has replaced nearly 75% of its hardware with computer operated systems.
- The initiative, known as Workforce 2020, includes a suite of new learning programs and facilities. AT&T plans to invest over a billion dollars in its push to prepare employees to face the next wave of technology.
It's not surprising that AT&T, long known for its brand presence in the world of telecommunications, would invest so much time and money into a complete re-training of employees.
Companies that can afford a similar effort it should follow this example for two reasons: It’s costly to replace employees, and it’s especially difficult to find skilled employees in the present job market.
Learning and development is taking priority as organizations realize this hard truth about the labor market. But there is also a good business case for implementing a complete training program for employees: They have to remain competitive in a market that keeps changing, particularly given the pace of automation.
Employees will have ongoing training needs far beyond the first wave of 100,000 who will complete these new programs, but that doesn't diminish the forward thinking exhibited by AT&T.