5 Ways for Workers to Win in the Robot Age

5 Ways for Workers to Win in the Robot Age

Machines and algorithms will do more current tasks than humans by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018.  The research covers 20 economies and 12 industries and focuses on the technological and human capital shifts in the workplace.

The same research also found that this robot revolution, although disruptive, would still create 58 million net new jobs in the next five years. However, companies need to manage the transition expected in the next five years. These five requirements are meant to create a positive future of work.

1. A shared approach to managing workforce transformations

Technology adoption looks very different across different industries. For example, over 70% of companies have plans to introduce wearable electronics in the health and healthcare industry,  less than a quarter of companies plan to adopt this technology for the infrastructure industry.

The subsequent consequences for workers are very different. Therefore each industry needs its roadmap to foresee which roles are expected to grow or decline, and then develop customised methods for addressing their specific talent needs.

While more than half of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling, most employers plan to focus their efforts on a few high-value roles rather than those at risk of displacement, due to cost concerns. For industry consortiums, costs may be low enough to make collaboration rather than competition for talent worthwhile.

2. A human-machine augmentation strategy 

Skills such as technical design and programming will continue to grow in demand industry-wide, but so will ‘human’ skills such as creativity, emotional intelligence, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation, attention to detail, complex problem-solving,  leadership and social influence.

Future growth depends on creating new and differentiated products and services that tap into human skills after an initial wave of labour-displacing and cost-cutting technologies. Human capital can no longer be a liability but an asset that goes beyond machinery task automation. Executives and HR leaders need to drive growth by creating a human-machine augmentation strategy for their organisations.

3. Modern labour market policies

According to the research, 58% of the core skills required to perform a job will remain the same, while 42% will require an average shift in workplace skills over the next five years. Reskilling and upskilling could take up to 2 years or longer to complete.

The report indicates that for 70% of displaced workers, their new role is going to come from outside their current industry.

It is critical for governments to play a proactive role and activate modern labour market policies for the future workplace. Such policies can include improving job centres, developing income safety nets, considering individual training accounts, building an ecosystem for the public and establishing new policies for online work.

4. A new approach to job creation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Across all industries, among the roles that are expected to grow significantly by 2022 are those leveraging technology. These include data analysts and scientists, software and applications developers, e-commerce and social media specialists, AI and machine learning specialists, big data specialists, information security analysts and robotics engineers.

Technology-driven education, green energy, leisure and health sectors among others are expected to expand due to demand in developing and developed countries. Governments will need to develop a new approach to “industrial policy” in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and create the right incentives through an investment and entrepreneurship framework that systematically channels the right kind of job creation.

5. A common language for defining and assessing skills

In today’s marketplace, workforce needs change too fast for degrees and qualifications to last across a decades-long career. Also, educational systems are often missing the practical skills needed in the workplace.

For decades, diplomas and degrees, and the institutions that issue them have served as proxies for applicable skills, especially in the white-collar workforce. In a relatively stable labour market, this system largely worked, but not anymore.

The future of work needs to develop around a common human capital taxonomy that understands what constitutes a skill, a competency, an ability or a trait, and how to assess it. Such a taxonomy can serve as a basis for an agile, transferable approach to degrees, diplomas, certifications, micro-credentials, recruiting and staffing.

Creating a common language for defining and assessing skills can lead to a more efficient, transparent, and dynamic labour and education market.

Source: World Economic Forum


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