The future of work is here, and that problematic skills gap that Human Resources professionals often talk about as being a far away challenge must be addressed now. Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is threatening to replace humans at work. IBM has already paused hiring in some divisions to determine whether jobs can be completed by AI rather than people.

“We’ve been saying you’re going to have to upskill, and you’re going to have to keep on top of things. Well, we’ve been talking about it for so long. We better be ready because this is it,” said Markus Bernhardt, Chief Evangelist at OBRIZUM when he spoke at the HREN Employee Engagement and Experience event. “…Well, you take your eye off the ball for four weeks, and you find yourself behind. So, one of the key things to get right is to stay on top of things and to learn to develop continuously.”

The Reality That Economies Are Facing

More than 40% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years as organizations have a greater need for those with complex problem-solving and cognitive skills, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023. The results come from 803 companies across 27 “industry clusters” in 45 economies around the world.

The future of work begins with advancements in technology. More than 75% of companies told the World Economic Forum that they are looking to adopt technologies like big data, cloud computing, and AI in the next five years. And 85% of organizations identified increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation.

What Can Workers Anticipate?

In other words, change is afoot, and there’s no stopping it now. But this swift transformation will come at a cost. The next most impactful trends are the rising cost of living and slow economic growth. In addition, six in 10 workers will require training before 2027 but only half of workers have access to adequate training opportunties today.

This will put workers in a dangerous scenario. During what will be a vulnerable time economically, they will not have the right skills to meet the needs of the times nor will they have the proper education and training to take advantage of technology, some of which could potentially replace them in the workforce.

The fastest declining roles will be clerical/secretarial roles, bank tellers, postal service clerks, cashiers and ticket clerks, and data entry roles. On the other hand, organizations said that large-scale job growth will be evident in education, especially among vocational education and university/higher education professors. Jobs for agricultural professionals, particularly agriculture and equipment operators, will also increase.

Continuous Learning Rises in Importance

In general, however, people will need to learn the skills for the future of work. In addition to learning the technology and staying up-to-date with it, these are the most important skills, according to respondents:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Resilience
  • Flexibility and agility
  • Motivation and self-awareness

Learning and development, as a result, will become paramount to both employee engagement and an organization’s vitality. To remain on the cutting edge and stay relevant, both as individuals and businesses, continuous learning must be at the center of work culture. Some companies will have a hard time keeping up, especially with a prolonged economic downturn that limits resources for training. (To get more information on doing more with less, read Shaping L&D to Succeed in an Economic Downturn.)

Human Resources professionals can use the World Economic Forum’s survey results to improve their planning and make the case to executives about the importance of investing in learning and development and technology. It’s the only way to ensure organizations have a fighting chance at surviving this new world. And HR can be a driving force in shaping the future of work and the workforce.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

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