The most important aspect of companies investing in the skills of tomorrow is to avoid a spiralling skills crisis. One of the main reasons to write a post on this subject is because of the numerous companies who place zero importance on training their staff or providing the opportunity to improve their skills.

Of course this training could prove expensive for companies, yet it is usually in their best interest. Not all staff within the AP department would be eligible for training, but training schedules, incentives and other strategies could be put into place. Not only does this ensure only the most committed staff get to attend training and improve their skills, but those members of staff that are working with Company A as a stop gap towards their dream role at Company B are not going to be the ones that receive training grants or incentives. This is because best practice usually says that if a staff member receives training over a certain monetary amount, were they to leave the company within two years after they completed their training, then they would be required to pay back the cost of the training. Some companies implement this on a pro-rata basis, so for example, if the employee were to leave within 18 months of completing their training, they would not have to pay back the full cost of the course, but only a portion.

 

WHAT ARE THE SKILLS OF TOMORROW?

The “skills of tomorrow” are workplace trends and required skills based on an ever-changing business environment where current and would-be employees need to keep up with various changes. Just one of the skills currently in demand are part-qualified accountants, and for those within the AP industry, an interest in and knowledge of artificial intelligence, robotics, AP software developments and technology improvements are going to stand them in good stead to keep their AP career on track.

There is a real concern that advancements in artificial intelligence and the use of robots within several departments, including accounts payable, is going to take jobs away – but no-one can say for sure at this moment in time. Some believe it will herald a productivity revival while others believe it could threaten jobs. One study analysing the impact of automation in a number of countries found that it actually had a positive effect on overall employment rates.

Whether potential AP employees are studying to enter the industry or AP staffers with some experience behind them are improving their skillsets, research has also found that talent mismatches are happening are an increasing basis.

 

WHAT ARE TALENT MISMATCHES AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?

AP staffers will have certain skillsets and experience. When they undertake training, this could lead to improved skills, but not necessarily where they matter. The talent mismatch comes in when the skills that candidates possess and those that companies want are very different. This is becoming more of an issue each year which is demonstrated by the fact that companies globally have shown an increase in the rate of unfilled vacancies. However, according to recruitment experts, Hays, a fall in the UK’s long-term unemployment rate suggests that skills mismatches are becoming less of a problem in the country.

 

Companies that decide to invest in training staff within their AP departments certainly do have a task ahead of them, albeit one with an exciting and productive outcome. Ensuring the right training courses are chosen, ensuring the right staff attend them, getting the balance right between different levels of education such as workshops, intensive courses, distance learning diplomas and degrees… The value of these offerings and the subsequent return on investment will have to be analysed too, but it is becoming more and more obvious that AP staff need to be kept up to date with the latest developments within their industry.