Three Reasons Why Now is the Time to Upskill

October 19, 2020
Image of a robot hand and a human hand.

A Gallup survey from 2016 outlines that 59% of millennials, 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers believe opportunities to learn and grow in the workplace are extremely important.  
In this article we look at the importance of learning new skills and retraining staff; particularly in the context of automation becoming more prevalent in the workplace.
‘Robots coming to take our jobs’ and uncertainty about what the ‘future of work’ might hold are both widely covered topics. While countless technology predictions have been fantastically wrong in the past, it cannot hurt to set ourselves up to be indispensable if we possibly can.

A McKinsey study found technology in the foreseeable future will fully automate less than 5% of all jobs. This suggests you are more likely to find yourself working alongside a bot than being replaced by one.

Furthermore, most people’s jobs do not consist of a single process but are made up of many processes with varying complexity. Our view of the future of work envisions a human and technology partnership. This partnership will allow bots to automate the low-complexity, high-volume and repetitive processes, working alongside and supporting humans when required. It will enable people to focus on areas they
excel including problem solving, collaborating with and learning from colleagues.

If a bot takes away the time-consuming monotonous tasks there will be more time to focus on these areas.

If this does happen, this evolution could present many exciting opportunities so should be embraced, not feared; after all the World Economic Forum foresees AI creating 58 million more jobs than it takes.

Therefore, the best solution is to equip ourselves as best we can so we are essential in a more automated world.

See also: How Does Automation Benefit the Insurance Industry?

How do we do this?

At the time of writing, we find ourselves in unique circumstances with increased unemployment due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 11.1% of the US population were unemployed (17.8 million people) in June 2020, compared with 3.5% in February 2020, before the Coronavirus hit.

The unemployment figures are expected to improve once the world reopens, however we are not oblivious to the changes that businesses are quickly implementing, and using technology to do so, to keep themselves afloat and to survive in the ‘new normal’ until there is a vaccine. This may mean some roles might not be there to return to in the not-too-distant future.

Even with this happening, now is the perfect time to upskill and focus on those 58 million new job opportunities, here’s why.

1. Microsoft is offering free digital training for some of the most in-demand roles today

Microsoft data predicts that COVID-19 will accelerate digitization and is offering courses via Microsoft Learning, LinkedIn Learning and GitHub Learning Lab to help 25 million people around the world prepare for this change. Microsoft’s data shows how the pandemic has affected different communities, various professions and has created programs to help people develop the skills they will need to learn for these roles. There are 10 roles they have identified and among them are: Software Developer, Data Analyst and Graphic Designer – whatever your skillset, there is a future job for you.

2. Focus on soft skills – replicating these with AI is challenging

Soft skills are difficult for AI. AI is yet to naturally pick up on or respond to a spontaneous joke, an awkward silence or provide emotional support. There are thousands of ways in which automation can improve businesses but soft skills are not yet among them. Soft skills are as important as hard skills, perhaps even more so for humans in this context because they help lead teams, sculpt future leaders and will always be a necessary accompaniment to technology in business development. Grasping interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence come easily to some but if not, Microsoft has you covered. Soft skills training is part of their offering (free until March 2021) and seminars include: building resilience, embracing unexpected change, persuasion and teamwork.

3. Employer and employee benefits to upskilling and retraining

Employer benefits: It is more cost effective to retrain staff than to hire new teams. Another McKinsey study found 62% of Executives believe they will need to retrain/replace 25% of their workforce due to digitization by 2023.

Businesses that fail to adapt to the changing landscape are likely lose their best people, fail to remain relevant in the market and will not be a competitive option for hiring great new talent.

Employee benefits: Job security and satisfaction. If progression and development are important parts of work (as stated at the start of this article), proactively providing opportunities for staff to better themselves and bringing them on the digitization journey will keep them happy in the organization, intellectually stimulated, loyal and (most importantly) employed.  

Hopefully, this provides an optimistic vision of a working world where humans and technology work side by side and there are plentiful opportunities for the taking.

Case study: Accelerating Policy Submissions

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