We’re now in the fourth industrial revolution, with technologies like AI, robotics, and IoT helping us all work smarter. But what does this mean for the future of work and how can we prepare?
The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2025, the amount of work being done by machines will rise from 29 percent to over 50 percent. While this does mean a predicted displacement of around 75 million jobs, it’s expected to create 133 million new job roles. This revolution will free human employees from repetitive tasks, allowing them to bring other talents to the forefront. Creativity, strategy, critical and analytical thinking are all examples of talents that are unique to us as humans.
“Ultimately, it’s not going to be about human vs. machine. We humans have creativity, empathy, emotion, physicality, and insight that can then be mixed with powerful AI computation-the ability to reason over large amounts of data and do pattern recognition more quickly to help move society forward,” says Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.
Jobs are changing and, whilst they will be enhanced by technology, those distinctly ‘human’ traits are still required for the future of work. Instead of completely replacing a customer service agent, a chatbot could help provide answers for general questions. Your employees could then invest their time in providing a more personalised and informative service. This means a better experience for your customers and a higher level of employee engagement.
Both current and future employees need to invest in developing their digital skills to ensure they adapt to this new way of working.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to acquire digital skills today, so they possess the tools of tomorrow and shape their future,” Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK said.
Invest in ongoing training
WEF predicts everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning by 2022. In addition to that, 65 percent of today’s students will end up in jobs that don’t actually exist yet. How do we future-proof those roles? We need to empower people with the digital skills they need to succeed in the future – both in education and within businesses.
Apprenticeships, for example, offer real-world, on-the-job experiences which help develop these vital skills in a way that a classroom can’t. This is a great way to build our talent pipeline and ensures we’ve got an empowered and motivated future-ready workforce. It’s a great way to invest in your future success by nurturing the skills your organisation needs to stay competitive.
75% of employers reported that apprenticeships have helped them improve the quality of their product or service¹
Ian Fordham, Chief Learning & Skills Officer Microsoft UK said: “As we move further into the fourth industrial revolution, it will be even more important for students to leave the education system with the technical skills organisations will need to thrive in this new cloud economy.”
41 percent of respondents to the WEF report are set to focus training on high-performing employees. Yet, only 33 percent stated they would focus on employees who will be most affected by the technological disruption.
You need to find a way to bridge the gap if you’re to succeed in the future of work.
Create a culture of lifelong learning
These skill gaps, among both workers and the leadership team, will pose barriers to the adoption of technology, impeding business growth. The organisations who will come out on the top of this industrial revolution will be the ones who instill a culture of lifelong learning, from the top down. Investing in training for your employees is a key factor for retention too. 70 percent of employees indicated that job-related training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job. It’s even more critical for millennials too, where the figure rises to 87 percent.²
While over half of the survived organisations said that retraining will be developed through internal departments, there are already training resources available to help you get started with filling these skills gaps now. Microsoft’s Digital Skills programme offers free courses to help you develop your digital skills, from basic digital literacy to more advanced courses which demonstrate your expertise – like the Microsoft Professional Programme.
“You’ve got to get the right culture and change programme in place to unlock the true value of technology. Creating a culture in which technology blends with human potential is where the magic happens,” says Cindy Rose.
A culture of learning can increase your organisation’s profits, and help you attract and retain the right talent too. As a result, you’ll create a better employee experience meaning your workforce will be more collaborative, productive, innovative, and agile.
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