Let’s reimagine re-skilling: new ideas for the future of work in a Covid world

Adapting to new ways of working has been a feature of how we all have coped in the Covid world. The first stage of this unprecedented crisis saw remarkable efforts to tackle the immediate challenges of the pandemic. All over the world, and in all areas, people had to adapt. We had no choice. For many companies, one of the learnings of this crisis was to recognise the value of their people. From hospitals to supermarkets, to the food & beverage industry and many other sectors, organizations have re-discovered that their main strength is, first and foremost, their people. Another thing that happened was that the crisis accelerated lasting change in consumer habits and organizations are now grappling with what they must do to meet this change.

Picture of Volvic volcano

We now have a collective chance to catch our breath. It is not about “going back to normal”, or imagining a “post-Covid world”… We must now learn to live in a Covid world, but we can all draw lessons from what has happened over recent months. As we explore how best to adapt and consider what we must do next to be more resilient in this new reality, we must use fresh thinking to counter upcoming challenges and literally reinvent the future of work.


Much will change. New demands will require new roles and people will be asked to do new and different jobs. So, it's our collective responsibility, as companies and employers, to stand with our workforce at this time and find new ways to equip them with the skills, development and confidence that will serve them best for their future jobs and support our business success.


So, confronting the upcoming economic and social consequences of this next phase of the Covid crisis, we must reimagine our response to adapt quickly to the circumstances. In doing so, we must find the answer to: “how can we address the challenges and opportunities in a way that is responsible and shows our contribution to society, under the imperative of collective action?”.


Well maybe there is. Maybe there is a way we can find to commit to those who need new skills, to build a bridge to jobs of the future.


Over the last weeks, at Danone, we have been working hand in hand with the IUF - the global federation of unions in the food industry - to challenge conventional thinking and imagine a pioneering and innovative approach to develop these “FutureSkills”. The objective is to support our employees who need new skills, by offering them the opportunity to be trained and upskilled for the jobs of the future - either jobs which will require additional resources in the future, or new jobs that will become increasingly important. All along the training program, they will remain Danone employees and keep their benefits.


This is the ambition of this joint initiative, which is in line with Danone’s legacy dual project aimed at combining economic success and social progress. As an “Entreprise à Mission”, we will thrive together to pursue the accelerated transformation of our business and develop our people.  We believe that, the more our business demonstrates that it is working for all its stakeholders, the more it will create value and be recognized for that. We will engage in further discussions with the IUF in the coming weeks to reach a global agreement, to ensure that the implementation of this ambition is fully integrated in social dialogue locally.


And we intend to go further, by sharing what we learn in this program with other like-minded companies allied with our ambition to re-imagine the future of work. We aim at creating a broader movement, as we did last year for instance, by helping instigate and drive forward the global coalition, powered by the OECD, called Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) or when we co-created in France the “Collectif pour une économie plus inclusive” (business coalition for a more inclusive economy). 


A strong and resilient workforce better equipped to tackle what lies ahead is good for individuals, good for the company and good for society. That’s why “FutureSkills” is a worthy avenue to explore collectively. Let’s capture this opportunity to re-imagine the future of work for all and build a strong, resilient future in an inclusive way.