‘As a result of a combination of technological progression, new roles developing to meet climate change challenges and evolving working patterns, the finance industry is suffering a workforce skills challenge’ according to Sarah Hollingsworth, People & Organisation Advisory Lead of PwC Channel Islands.

This is particularly stark within the Channel Islands which is showing a significant underperformance in their upskilling efforts compared to other jurisdictions. According to PwC’s Report – Upskilling the Channel Islands’ workforce for a digital world – up to 30% of jobs in the Channel Islands are at risk from automation by 2035, which equates to around 16,000 jobs in Jersey.

Sarah was speaking at one of Jersey Finance’s lunch and learn webinar sessions organised for its members. Jersey Finance: Fintech Lunch and Learn – Digital Skills, hosted and introduced by Nathalie Andersson, Strategy and Research Manager, Jersey Finance, which also included a contribution from Sarah’s colleague, PwC Advisory Associate Hayleigh Smith.

They addressed attendees about the need for reskilling and upskilling in the financial services sector, as well as highlighting the opportunities this brings both in terms of culture and reduced business risk.

“It’s about making sure you keep ahead of what your competition offers by providing compelling upskilling and reskilling opportunities for all employees,” said Sarah.

She explained how digitalisation can also offer many exciting opportunities, including upskilling for internal redeployment, which empowers employees and enhances the value they can add to different outlets across the business. This in turn builds a positive culture and supports retention, which ultimately reduces business risks and costs.

Despite resources being cited as a barrier, committing to upskilling by investing both financially and by dedicating time to doing so properly, makes financial sense, as Hayleigh explained:

“Research has shown it’s much easier and cheaper to upskill workers you already have than trying to recruit new ones.”

“According to a Financial Services Skills Commission and PwC UK report, firms can save up to £49,100 per employee when they reskill an employee, compared to hiring someone new with the relevant skills”

Attendees at the session were also given guidance about how to initiate an upskilling and reskilling strategy, with recommendations to place data at the forefront in order to understand the training requirements for the specific aims of the business.

Identifying skills gaps in the workforce is the ideal starting point to understand the areas requiring attention, alongside gauging the appetite and preference that a company’s workforce has in terms of the format of digital upskilling. This could be conducted using previous training data, training needs analysis, engagement surveys or running focus groups and interviews.

When considering the practical ways to create a future-ready workforce, significant emphasis was placed on addressing both technical and soft skills’ areas.

“There is a common misconception that when talking about upskilling, people automatically think we are talking about complex technical skills’, ” said Sarah. “Whilst we do need subject matter experts with deep technical skills, in fact, most of the workforce, especially in financial services, only need to have a foundational, high-level understanding of the technology available and comfortable articulating what that is and how it can be used in their industry or work.”

Whilst some roles will require more in-depth knowledge – such as programming, or data management and analysis – critical thinking, research skills, effective communication and collaboration behaviours are also considered as being ranked within the top five essential skills for a future ready workforce.

Together, these nurture innovation and empower teams and individuals to think creatively to overcome challenges in more innovative ways. These in turn will help organisations adapt to future changes effectively.

The event concluded with an outline of the key takeaways from the presentation required to commit to an upskilling policy and was  followed by a Q&A session. View the presentation on the Jersey Finance Website.

The Jersey Finance Fintech Lunch and Learn sessions will continue throughout the year and cover various topics related to fintech. Please visit the Jersey Finance events page for upcoming events.