Digital Transformation is upon us: Act Now

A future-oriented workforce strategy can yield enormous benefits from the fourth industrial revolution, according to the World Economic Forum’s report, The Future of Jobs 2018.

The report indicates that over the next four years 75 million jobs worldwide will be rendered obsolete, but the good news is that an additional 133 million roles will be created. It concludes, “the likelihood of hiring new permanent staff with relevant skills is nearly twice the likelihood of strategic redundancies of staff lagging behind in new skills adoption.”

Four specific technological advances— high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology—are set to dominate the 2018–2022 period as drivers positively affecting business growth.

To be successful in the wave of automation, emerging technologies and learning new skills are now inseparable. In Australia, 87 per cent of employers intend to automate their work in the future, making investment in learning a priority. “By 2022, everyone will need an extra 101 days of learning,” the report says. Worldwide, a whopping 54 per cent of employees require either retraining or upskilling to seize opportunities in the labour market.

To reap the long-term benefits of digital transformation, employers should “recognise human capital investment as an asset rather than a liability,the report says. It highlights the significance of having soft skills in tandem with technological skills. The top cognitive skills that will be in demand by 2020 include: analytical thinking and innovation, active learning, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and system analysis.

With the increasing interaction between machines and humans in the workplace, it is urgent for industry leaders and employers to adopt an “augmentation strategy”, which will involve using automation to complement and enhance the strength of their workforce.

The role of government in the future of work cannot be underestimated. The World Economic Forum recommends that policy-makers  work in collaboration with stakeholders and educators to develop effective regulation to facilitate the implementation of new technologies and raise the education and skill levels of the workforce. A similar point was stressed at AIS’s Sydney forum on future skilling, with speakers acknowledging that industry and all levels of government have a shared responsibility to invest in training the workforce of the future.

In the fast-changing workplace, technology won’t wait for us to plan; we must think, decide, and act now.  One thing you can do, if you haven’t already, is join AIS’s conversation about future skills by coming to one of our free forums in Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

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