The 2020 Workforce: It’s time to Rethink, Reskill and Redeploy

The true competitors in 2020 have taken an offensive strategy by reinvesting in the talent they already have. Industry giants like AT&T, Amazon and Walmart recognize the threat the technology revolution has created in the 2020 talent landscape but have turned it into an opportunity. If you want to get ahead of the “War for Talent” in 2020, it’s time for you to rethink, reskill and redeploy your employees.

COVID19 has changed how organizations view talent. As unemployment continues to rise and the market tightens, many organizations have begun taking a deeper look at how they are leveraging their employees. It is more important now than before to rethink how you are leveraging your talent, take opportunities to reskill it, and find more effective ways to redeploy your skilled workforce.


When I talk to managers during an intake meeting, they inevitability lead with “I think we need to look externally for this role”. Most hiring managers are infatuated with the idea of the dynamite candidate outside of the firm’s walls. Some will go so far as to discredit any potential internal candidate’s credentials to hire an external candidate with the same or even less.

The first step in the battle plan for 2020 is changing the mindset to value internal talent. The amount of money and time spent onboarding and training employees should logically encourage managers to consider internal talent ahead of external but that’s rarely the case. Recruiters and HR partners will first have to work with hiring managers to change the mindset over time. According to Josh Bersin, “Employees who are the beneficiaries of deep investments of time and resources to stay relevant feel more committed to the organization, retention and engagement goes up, and the company now sees a clear pipeline of digital skills emerging in its own talent.”

A quick way to change this mindset is to do an internal campaign highlighting star internal promotions. I have found companies rarely market their internal promotions, thus perpetuating the elusion of external talent is sexier. Create a content calendar to promote the internal wins you achieve to keep your change management momentum.


According to Lighthouse Research & Advisory, the term reskill is used interchangeably with upskilling. Here is the difference:

  • Upskilling is the development of additional skills to help make someone more valuable in their current role. For example, a software developer learning an additional coding language.
  • Reskilling is the development of significantly different skills to make someone suitable for a different role. For example, retraining a former cashier to work as a personal shopper instead, as Wal-Mart and other retailers have done.

Lighthouse conducted a recent research study and found the “number one driver of learning content demand for employers was to close skills gaps”. Companies like Amazon, AT&T and other notable companies have diverted more of their focus on reskilling their current employees than hunting for new talent. Perhaps these companies understand this investment will pay higher dividends when you take into account the internal knowledge and less ramp-up time associated with reskilling employees.

In a recent article, McKinsey Global Institute cited approximately 300 global executives, a majority of respondents said they’ll need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce by 2023. Unfortunately, only 16 percent reported feeling “very prepared” to tackle the skills-gap challenge.

My own organization, BBVA, has worked to develop an internal training program to help reskill its tech talent with a program called Ninja. “The need to acquire knowledge and technical skills at the speed at which the organization needs them is not exclusive to the technology areas. Ninja was created to detect, promote and give visibility to BBVA’s technology talent, and now we want it to be a reality for the entire organization,” explains Ricardo Forcano, the Global Head of Engineering and Organization at BBVA. The program is just one example of how firms are trying to reskill its workforce to compete in this competitive and quickly changing market.


Once you’ve changed the hiring manager mindset and retrained your workforce, it’s time to redeploy your newly upskilled workforce into the organization. One would see this as the easiest step but this can often be the step with the highest resistance.

Remember hiring managers’ infatuation with the allure of external talent? The first obstacle to overcome is to change the mindset during the redeployment phase as well.

Some organizations have begun allowing jobs to be posted only for internals for a certain number of days. This allows internals the opportunity to post for jobs ahead of external talent, forcing managers to provide feedback on the internals who apply for the jobs. This is a passive first step to consider, however, the amount of time and money your organization will spend reskilling or upskilling your workforce, a more aggressive strategy is in order.

If you really want to redeploy internal talent, you should rethink how you market internal talent. Simply submitting a resume will no longer work. Work with your internal talent to create a candidate profile worthy of the investment your firm has made in them. Match their training with openings and present your newly created talent pool to managers ahead of postings going live.

You’ll also need to spend more time with your internal talent pool to know what areas would benefit most from their training. If you have the option to help design the reskilling with hiring managers as instructors, this is a great way to get early hiring manager buyin.

I am excited to be speaking on this topic at the Digital Banking Conference this June in Austin, TX. There’s still time to register for the conference if you are interested.

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Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for and I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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