Industry News Skills Development

Upskilling And Reskilling Your Workforce Of The Future

The world of work is changing. Again. The rise of technology has given us so much information that data guides virtually every business decision in the modern age. But now, we are transitioning from the information age to the collaboration age. There has long been a friction between emerging technologies helping companies work more efficiently and people’s concerns about the future of their jobs.

According to World Economic Forum (WEF), an estimated 75 million jobs may be disrupted by machines and automation in the next five years. In fact, it’s rare to go a day without another organisation announcing how the use of AI is transforming business.

Yet despite concerns, the outlook for jobs is overwhelmingly positive. The same WEF report found that the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, while ‘disrupting’ jobs, is actually set to create 133 million new roles. What’s more, by 2022, today’s newly emerging occupations are set to grow from 16% to 27% of the employee base of large firms globally. The reality is that AI is more likely to improve than impede your working life.

These stats will provide comfort to employers looking to reassure their workforce that the abundance of new technology entering the market will create more opportunities for career growth and development. Workers seem to agree. Many recognise that technologies, such as AI, can create more fulfilling jobs and bring real value to the businesses. Our Future of Work report examines the trends shaping how, when and where people work. A supporting survey of 3,000 European workers found that 61% are optimistic about the opportunities technology brings to the workplace.

Future-proofing skills

While workers are more excited than fearful about technology, employers cannot rest on their laurels. Most (81%) workers want assurance from their employers in the form of on the job training so they can adapt to new roles.

This is particularly important when we consider the role technology will play in extending careers beyond traditional working ages, and how it will open the door for younger generations to join the workforce. Collaboration between IT and HR should allow for leadership development and e-learning programmes aimed at bridging the skills gap to be built into standard working practices and onboarding sessions. That way, anyone whose role is set to change through technology can feel confident and empowered working with machines.

General Assembly, an education organisation with 20 campuses around the world, provides classroom and online programmes that help people transform their careers through upskilling and reskilling. The organisation’s curriculum is informed by an ongoing conversation with employers about the skills they believe their workforce will need in the future. This reinforces the importance of a broader, coordinated approach between industries, academia and workers to tackle the future challenges and opportunities of the new skills landscape.

Transferring skills within the business

Although important, the solution is not to rely solely on formal training processes and procedures. Employers also need to embrace collaboration, bringing workers of different skills together to enable people to learn more organically. This is working well for us at Ricoh. At our global head office, employees can spend time working on a different role within the business. It’s proving to be a great way to help develop skills, share expertise and create an open and inclusive culture.

Similarly, in a culture where flexible working is becoming common practice, the onus is on employees to ensure technology works for everyone.

Final words

We may hear it all the time, but that’s because it’s true: people are a business’ most valuable asset. But technology isn’t slowing down, meaning the boundaries between humans and machines will become increasingly blurred. In order to ensure every worker is prepared, training, paired with a responsive and accommodating workspace, remains critical to remaining competitive in an ever-changing digital age.