How to prevent skills from becoming obsolete

Occurring ever more frequently in the workplace, skills obsolescence is accelerated by teleworking and remote management, to the chagrin of the employees and managers who suffer from it. Here are some ways to curb this phenomenon.


Skills obsolescence can be defined as the insufficiency or the expiration of the knowledge necessary for a worker to continue to perform well in their job.

It can be caused by technological, organizational or economic changes.

While the phenomenon has always been marked in IT, no sector is immune given the major upheavals brought about by the digital transition and the rapid transformations of the labour market.

The recourse to teleworking caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is only accelerating this trend, which has a direct impact on the morale of the troops. “This necessarily plays on the employee’s sense of competence and the perception of his or her value within the company,” explains Geneviève Desautels, MBA, CHRP and management coach.

“To have the impression of always being a step behind causes stress and it puts pressure [on the shoulders of the employee], in addition to preventing them from expressing the full potential of their talent.”

Some solutions

To remedy this, Geneviève Desautels promotes two main areas: communication and continuing education.

Having regular discussions between boss and employee not only makes it possible to directly address the issue, but also “to rebalance the perception and perspective of each person in relation to skills”.

“An employee might think he is not competent when this is not the case. It is up to the manager to reassure him and correct his perception. This type of discussion is fundamental.”

The use of on-the-job training is also essential. Geneviève Desautels prefers a continuous learning approach that will make it possible to perpetuate learning, rather than simple one-off training to fill in the gaps.

“Rather than organizing a training day, why not divide it into several blocks spread over a month?”, she says, suggesting training that may span 3, 6 or even 12 months. “Micro-courses”, which can be done online through 2 or 3 minute modules, is also a solution.

“You have to think of training as a learning journey, made up of follow-ups and implementations from one week to the next, rather than just a brainstorming session.”

Thus, training must serve to update and renew one’s skills, but above all to increase one’s ability to acquire new skills.

“Rather than giving them the fish, you have to teach employees to fish, that is, to teach to think, analyze and do more for themselves,” she concludes.

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