Working in partnership on building our skills

We know that careers today are very different to what they were decades ago. Jobs and industries are evolving quickly, and people tend not to be in one job for life but have several in their lifetime.

Whilst that may not be with different employers, it is possible to have multiple careers within the same company.

At Community, we know that prior to the pandemic, employers were facing skills shortages and that across the UK we faced a mismatch between the skills workers held and the skills needed to succeed at work. The nature of work, and careers, are changing fast. Skills are the new currency in work and will be critical if we are to successfully revive our economy.

We want to empower our members to take ownership of your skills and be able to confidently recognise the skills you currently have, and don’t have, in work and beyond.

As a union and with the employers we work with, we are working for members to be set up and supported throughout these variations and skilled for the future and any changes to the job market.

As one of the employers we are recognised with, Zurich have committed to offering courses and upskilling to their employees, as well as developing a skills passport so employees can keep track of the skills they have, what they learn and if they are relevant to any future jobs.

Upskilling is the process of using additional training or education to build upon and advance current skills, and there is a responsibility on employers to ensure their staff are suitably skilled and offered the opportunity to develop continually.

Caroline Caddick, People Development Manager at Zurich,  who has been working closely with us on the future skills project had this to say:

“As Zurich accelerates its reliance on digital tools, products and services we need to make sure that our employees have the right skills and creative freedom to introduce innovation needed now and in the future.

We have worked with Community to look at how we can support employees by making sure they have the opportunity to learn, develop and grow, and explore new opportunities that make the most of their talent, skills, and expertise.

It also makes sense and links with our principles around career sustainability that we should focus on giving our employees the opportunity to develop their careers, thus allowing us to fill jobs internally and grow our skills base.

Our Skills reflection tool helps us to identify where we need to focus our efforts when thinking about skills for the future, and our focus on development via our Academies (Data; Automation; Dev Ops: Leadership and Coaching) shows our commitment to more formal development for all.”

John Keppel, COO at Zurich UK comments:

‘The skill set of our workforce is constantly changing. As an industry, we battle for top market talent to try and fill that gap.

At Zurich, we don’t believe it has to be this way. Whilst we can’t ignore the benefits that automation brings, it’s important to retain, nurture and educate our teams.

This is a clear opportunity, not a threat to our employees. It’s crucial that we factor the future skills requirements for the business into the process now. If we know what’s coming, we can start transitioning existing employees into new careers today.’

Alastair Robertson, Head of Continuous Improvement and Automation at Zurich UK continues:

‘My team is a perfect example of how to nurture existing employees for the future.

There are many preconceived ideas about implementing automated processes into a business and how these roles must be carried out by tech specialists.

In reality, the best people to do this effectively have worked within the function that you’re looking to automate as they really understand the process.’

Working in partnership with organisations is key to helping our members future proof their skills and employment. Our partnership with Zurich and its success allows us to fulfil our commitment in this area. Now we need other organisations to follow suit, and a nationwide new approach to upskilling.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.


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