CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling people for the future

  • Reskilling people to be adaptive and relevant will create the future workforce
  •  Fully 84% of workers surveyed are optimistic about the impact of digital on their job


CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling people for the future


A NEW report by Accenture Strategy cautions that in a rapidly changing digital landscape, CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling their people to be relevant in the future and ready to adapt to change.

According to the report, Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce, CEOs must be mindful to put their people first and at the centre of change to create the future workforce.

The stakes are high for businesses, workers and society as a whole. Development of human skills such as leadership, critical thinking and creative skills, as well as emotional intelligence, would reduce job losses due to total automation considerably.


CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling people for the future


The survey of 10,527 working people in ten countries and Accenture Strategy modelling shows that if the rate at which workers build relevant skills is doubled, the share of jobs at risk of total automation in the US in 2025 would be reduced from 10% to 4%.

The same progress in the UK and Germany would result in reductions from 6% to 9% and 15% to 10% respectively.

“Paradoxically, the truly human skills, from leadership to creativity, will remain highly relevant and winning organisations will strike the right balance — leveraging the best of technology to elevate, not eliminate their people,” said Accenture chief leadership and human resources officer Ellyn Shook.

“Not only are workers optimistic, but they understand they must learn new skills. Digital can accelerate learning by embedding training seamlessly into daily work — so learning becomes a way of life — helping workers and organisations remain relevant.”

From the US and France to Brazil, India and six other major countries surveyed, people are surprisingly positive about the impact of digital technology on the workplace. 

In fact, fully 84% of workers surveyed are optimistic about the impact of digital on their job. More than two-thirds think that technologies such as robots, data analytics and artificial intelligence will help them be more efficient (74%), learn new skills (73%) and improve the quality of their work (66%).

Eighty-seven percent of these working people expect parts of their job to be automated in the next five years, ranging from 93% of millennials to 79% of baby boomers.

Of those who expect automation, 80% anticipate more opportunities than challenges in how automation will impact their work experiences in the next five years.

Additional Accenture research shows that artificial intelligence alone has the potential to double the annual economic growth rates and boost labour productivity by up to 40% by 2035 in the 12 developed countries examined.


CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling people for the future


Additionally, the values of today’s workforce will require leaders to respond with a different range of rewards, benefits and support.

According to modelling undertaken by Accenture Strategy and Gallup, non-financial factors, such as well-being, engagement, quality of life and status are equal, if not more important to workers than income and benefits.

 “Creating the future workforce now is the responsibility of every CEO. Those leaders who make their people a strategic business priority and understand the urgency of this challenge will be the ones that make the greatest gains in growth and innovation,” said Accenture Strategy group chief executive Mark Knickrehm.

To help leaders navigate and shape the future workforce, Accenture Strategy has the following recommendations:

  • Accelerate reskilling: From top to bottom, invest in technical and more human skills involving creativity and judgment, taking advantage of the fact that 85% of workers are ready to invest their free time in the next six months to learn new skills. Scale reskilling by using digital technology. This can include wearable technologies, such as smart glasses that provide technical advice and information as workers carry out tasks. It can also include intelligent software to personalise training that offers recommendations to support an individual’s life-long learning needs.
  • Redesign work to unlock human potential: Co-create role-based, gig-like employment opportunities to satisfy workers’ demands for more varied work and flexible arrangements. Develop platforms through which a range of resources and services can be offered to employees and freelancers alike in order to create a compelling community that keeps top talent loyal.
  • Strengthen the talent pipeline from its source: Address industry-wide skills shortages by supporting longer term, collective solutions. These include public private partnerships designed to create a broad adoption of skills training. Work with the education sector to design curricula that develop relevant skills at the beginning of the talent supply chain.


Related Stories:
The inevitable rise of the robots
Retaining millennials: It is about tech and culture, not money
Digital is more about humans than machines
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