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The Skills Revolution – Hello Automation, Goodbye Workers?

What does the future hold for automation? One thing is certain: We’ll have to learn new skills. Skills to deal with change, for jobs we don’t even have an idea about today. The Manpower Group, the world’s largest employment services provider, asked 18,000 employers in 43 countries from 6 industrial sectors what these skills could be, what activities we would have to perform and what the working world could look like in the near future. This means that the current technology can automate up to 45 percent of the tasks for which people are paid every day. At the same time, we have long since adapted to this development in the job market – chatbots, automatic customer service on the phone, word processing programs and even personal assistants are nothing new. The difference now is that the life cycle of skills is shorter than ever and changes are taking place on an unprecedented scale. The impact may be hyperinflated today, but as the cost and complexity of implementing technology decreases, the speed will continue to accelerate.

And yet: New technologies can be expensive and require people with expertise. Employers are therefore reluctant to say “hello automation, goodbye workers” with full vigor. Most employers expect a net gain for employees through automation and adaptation to digitization. 83 percent intend to maintain or increase their headcount and train their employees over the next two years. Only 12 percent of employers plan to reduce the number of employees due to automation. What does this look like in your company? Do you rely more on new technologies or on loyal employees who are willing to take further training?

Employability = willingness to learn new things

We can assume that the value we place on different abilities will soon change. Digitization and the growth of skilled labor offer opportunities as long as organizations and individuals are prepared to embrace this change in values. New technologies will replace both cognitive and manual routine tasks, allowing people to assume more fulfilling roles and leave routine tasks to an algorithm. Creativity, emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility are skills that harness human potential and enable humans to complement rather than be replaced by robots. People will increasingly realize that they need to move into new areas and diversify. Openness for skill acquisition, flexibility and the ability to learn will be decisive.

For people, employability – the ability to get and keep a desired job – no longer depends on what they can already do, but on their willingness to learn new things they don’t yet know about. The companies that can combine the right combination of people, skills and technology are the ones that will persevere and win. Take a look at your corporate structure: Who can do what and to what extent have you implemented new technical solutions? Is there potential for improvement in one or the other area?

Know-how transfer from person to person

The future of work requires different skills and employers need to focus more than ever on retraining and education to cope with the current talent shortage and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. Almost three quarters invest in internal training to keep their qualifications up to date. 44 percent hire additional skilled workers instead of replacing them, and more than a third persuade third parties or contractors to transfer expertise to their own employees. We should not underestimate the value of the human connection. The transformation of work in the age of machines does not have to be a struggle between man and robot.

Which talents do you promote in your company?

The Manpower Group has proclaimed the “Skills Revolution”. It requires a new mindset both for employers who are trying to develop a workforce with the right skills and for people who want to advance their careers. Educational initiatives to strengthen the talent pipeline are important, but not the only answer and may take many years to bear fruit. Companies must play a role to improve people’s lives and be an important part of the solution. Now is the time for managers and individuals to become aware of their responsibilities and be responsive. Find out about the opportunities to promote talent and develop new skills in your company. TÜV Rheinland Academy, for example, can help you with this. We support you with tried and tested solutions for people in the workplace and in their professional environment. Contact us and we will discuss together which forms and methods can best be used in your company.

More information is available at: https://www.tuv.com/

Markus Dohm
Markus Dohm