Digital Reskilling Lab

Digital technologies including AI and ML become ubiquitous, and there are deep concerns about who will benefit from these technologies. Will workers whose jobs will be replaced by new technologies be able to redeploy their skills in different roles quickly?

Across the globe companies and governments are starting to invest in initiatives aimed at retraining and reskilling people. In some instances, they do so with the intention to prepare the future workforce for jobs that don’t yet exist. But what has been done to date, and the effectiveness of past and ongoing initiatives is largely unknown or unrecorded. If it is understood, its success can be measured, best practices can be replicated, and errors corrected.

The Digital Reskilling Lab will gather this precious information, and work to provide new and innovative solutions to these problems. It will first examine how firms deal with the recruitment and training of “at risk” workers, focusing on whether and how retraining initiatives reach the workers who most need them, what approaches are being used to upskill and reskill the workforce to use the new digital technologies and their perceived effectiveness. It will use these data to provide a sense of “best practices” and their adoption across firms. Second, it will build on this knowledge and partner with organizations to test and experiment with different approaches to make sure that upskilling and reskilling initiatives reach workers that really need them, and deliver tangible benefits to them in the most effective way.


The Digital Reskilling Lab is led by: 

  • Raffaella Sadun Raffaella Sadun , Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration. She received her PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 
  • Jorge Tamayo, Assistant Professor of Business Administration. He holds a PhD from the University of Southern California.

Activities/Research Focus

The Lab partners with organizations to test the feasibility, scalability, and effectiveness of different approaches to the skills challenge. Its work will be relevant to large, digital-immigrant organizations and to young organizations offering retraining services.

The Digital Reskilling Lab has two objectives:

  1. Close the knowledge gap. To do this we will:
    • Understand retraining initiatives within firms to:
      • Learn from what already exists. This involves capturing the knowledge that has been developed, at HBS and elsewhere.
      • Expand knowledge. Gaining deeper insights from existing case studies, and extending our search to other firms. 
      • Compare data. Synthesizing the knowledge from various approaches and cataloging best practices.
  1. Close the implementation gap. To do this we will:
    • Recruit partner organizations to:
      • Evaluate the costs and benefits of retraining programs.
      • Structure the roll out of these programs and the data to measure take-up and ROI. 
      • Study how key program characteristics relate to individual and organizational outcomes. 
      • Assess the scalability of different approaches and whether they can be replicated across different subsidiaries within firms, or across firms?

We will determine the boundary conditions of various reskilling strategies. This knowledge and best practices will be broadcast across our academic and business communities.

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