Upskilling is Parking’s Secret Weapon in the Talent War

For years, hiring professionals and recruiters have been warning of the looming “War For Talent.” At the time, many companies accepted this possibility but brushed it aside as a slow moving trend that would gradually be resolved over several years. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans and compacted years of resignations, redundancies and retirements into less than 24 months. So here we are today, in the throws of a “Talent War”.




As a recruiter in the parking industry, the reality is competition for top talent is extremely tight. Businesses that can’t compete will need to adapt in order to keep pace by turning to their internal talent pipelines, and develop and upskill these employees. As we move into a new era for parking, here are a few skills I am seeing in high-demand for the next decade and the ways in which you can upskill your biggest asset, your people.


Create An Academy Training Program.


In some cases, you will find a VP or C-Level executive that has been with a parking company or organization for nearly 25 years, where he/she/they worked their way up the ranks from parking attendant to senior executive. These are the work-horses and the people that know every aspect of the business inside and out. In some cases, they may have a full knowledge of the business, but lack the softer skills of management such as leading people. In the next decade, parking businesses and companies will need to draw from this talent pool, but first take a more committed approach to developing and upskilling their leadership skills.


Every team requires a strong and experienced leader they can communicate with, trust and learn from. Partner with a learning and development team or external expert to curate a training program. Brand this as an “Academy or Institute” that will then be rolled out to eligible employees. Create various tiers of training modules or “courses” for every level of management that will eventually build upon previous learnings. Envision your training “Academy” as a multi-year upskilling program that begins at the field level and prepares employees for senior leadership including:


  • Managing and leading seamlessly in both virtual and physical workplaces

  • The most effective communication strategies and when appropriate to use each

  • Leading through inspiration and motivation, especially in volatile times

  • Managing both up to leaders as well as down to teams

  • Building upon current DEI initiatives and how to continue elevating the conversation

For the business, employees will add more value, and improve their skills and advance their careers which will be a key retention strategy. Great people management skills are critical for building a strong culture, loyal workforce and all around better business. Those companies who have all three will see higher retention rates, engaged employees and success for decades to come.


Develop Cognitive Skill Sets


As we saw over the last 10 years, the only predictable market trends were disruption and change. To navigate this, employees needed to have a curious mindset about the world and industry around them. COVID showed everyone, but most especially the parking industry, that adaptable thinking and agility was essential for solving staffing shortages to changing business models. For example, teams that tapped into their curiosity during the shifting dynamics of the pandemic, allowed for parking companies to adapt their pricing, business and strategy to focus on more transient, special event-based, and residential parking. Companies that were not led by inquisitive leaders or lacked curiosity, struggled through COVID. Disruption will continue to be a key trend for the next 10 years, and the parking industry must prepare to remain focused on innovation and change.


So how do you develop more curiosity within your people?


Start by assessing your team members and identifying who on the team has a curious mindset and approach to the world. These are the employees who are collaborative, offer up moonshot ideas, question processes and introduce fresh concepts or dive into hypothetical situations. Upskilling this group of contributors to become more curious is not done by simple training sessions or learning and development initiatives, but by leaders and managers that encourage curiosity. With equity, mobility and digitization transforming the industry, leaders should encourage stretch assignments that solve for these industry challenges and launch projects and discussions that spark innovation including:

  • The impacts their products and services will have on other industries, communities and society in general

  • An aging population and how to physically meet and cater to this group

  • An emerging generation that approaches driving and mobility in a completely new way

  • Transforming payments and accessibility to close the digital equity divide

  • Changing regulations and legislation within the auto industry

All of these are opportunities for teams to collaborate and tap into their curiosity and develop this cognitive skill set. Companies that develop, encourage and empower curiosity tend to be more agile in shifting markets, and are more likely to retain top performers.


Invest In Digital Agility And Technical Expertise


As the parking industry evolves over the next 10 years, it will continue to become more segmented and niched requiring more specialized technology, tools and technical talent. Looking ahead, employees will need to be more digitally agile as a basic skill set, not only knowing how to use new technologies but when to implement them across the business. This will require sales and operations teams to work more closely alongside automation and upskill their product and customer knowledge to become a deeper subject matter expert in their field. Parking companies can upskill their teams’ technology skill sets and technical sales expertise in several ways including:

  • Upfront Tuition Reimbursements or Stipends - These serve as an excellent way to both upskill your team and use it as a multi-year retention strategy.

  • Send Employees to Conferences or Workshops - Industry and trade events are often overlooked for acquiring new skill sets and facilitating collaboration. It also provides an employee the opportunity to experience their career and profession outside of the workplace.

  • Mentorship and Reverse Mentorship Programs. Leverage generational skills up and down all levels of management. Seasoned experts are able to provide legacy and institutional knowledge and best practices, while emerging leaders can introduce new technologies, processes or concepts to senior leadership.

  • Gamify Implementation, Learning and Software Adoption. With every new technology or process comes adoption or rejection. Gamify this process to create a seamless transition and incentivize employees to learn these new technologies and skills.

Over the next 10 years in parking, the industry will continue to grow, evolve and integrate more deeply into sector-adjacent products and offerings. The key to maintaining a strong foothold as an industry leader and competitor for the next decade, is to focus on not only hiring the best minds, but developing and upskilling your biggest asset, your people.


About The Author

Kathleen Laney is the founder of Laney Solutions, the preferred solution for recruitment within the parking industry. Her goal in establishing Laney Solutions was to provide high-quality executive recruitment to an under-served industry. And by having a narrow focus, she has developed exceptional parking industry expertise in a short period of time. Over the past seven years, she has earned trusted advisor status with parking leaders around the world through careful relationship building, superior client and candidate service, and relentless dedication to results. Today, Kathleen is a leading industry voice on the future of the parking professional, and has spoken and written extensively on the topic through industry associations and publications. In 2016, she was recognized with NPA's Top 40 Under 40 award and is a former Board Member of the Women in Parking Association.


Contact Kathleen at kathleen@laneysolutions.com.