I’ve been reading the World Economic Forum’s (FEC) 2018 report on the Future of Jobs as well as some of my communication colleagues’ comments on the report, and it’s made for some interesting reading.
The new world of work is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a world where artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning, big data analytics and cloud technology and of course robotisation are no longer buzz words or jargon. In the next few years they will be ‘part and parcel’ of business and industry.
The good news is that with these developments, the report’s authors see an increased demand for new roles to offset a decreasing demand for others. However, that does mean a difficult transition for millions of workers, alongside the need to invest in the surge in agile learners and skilled talent across the world.
Planning will be critical
Organisations will need to have a strategy and plans for the education, reskilling and upskilling necessary to fill the skills gap for those that most need it.
The Report quite rightly says “in order to truly rise to the challenge of formulating a winning workforce strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, businesses will need to recognise human capital investment as an asset rather than a liability.”
The report looks at 2018 to 2022, just four short years, and in that time 85% of respondents said they were likely or very likely to have expanded their adoption of big data analytics. About the same number will have expanded their adoption of technologies such as the internet of things and app- and web-enabled markets, and to make extensive use of cloud computing. With machine learning and augmented and virtual reality receiving considerable business investment.
By 2022, FEC found 59% of employers surveyed expect they will have significantly modified how they produce with nearly 50% expecting automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce.
But there is some good news with 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise such as AI and machine learning specialists, big data specialists and process automation specialists, alongside information security analysts.
Human skills essential in the transformation
While there will be increasing demand for roles based on and enhanced by the use of technology, FEC reports there is also growth expected in roles using ‘human’ skills, such as customer service, sales and marketing, training and development, people and culture and of course communication.
This means ‘human’ skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will retain or increase their value, as will attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving. Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence as well as service orientation also see an outsized increase in demand relative to their current prominence.
Burger King’s global head of brand marketing, Marcelo Pascoa, said recently when talking about the company’s campaign spoofing AI: “…we need to avoid getting lost in the sea of technology innovation and buzzwords and forget what really matters. And that’s the idea. Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person.”
What is concerning is that, according to the report, nearly a quarter of companies aren’t planning for the retraining of existing employees, and two-thirds expect workers to adapt and pick up the skills needed for their changing jobs. Between half and two-thirds are likely to turn to external contractors, temporary staff and freelancers to address their skills gaps.
Whoa, that’s not a great indicator for business thriving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As a communication professional I believe there is a role, in fact multiple roles for communicators in this shift.
Communicators have an important role
AI still involves humans communicating, so we need to be working alongside people and culture, training and development and our business leaders to guide our organisations through the change, engaging and bringing along its people, employees and stakeholders.
Communicators will continue to play an important role in looking after the organisation’s brand and increasingly keeping an eye on ensuring AI tools are implemented and being used ethically. We can play a role in emotion and conscience.
Read the report here: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018 or contact us and we would be happy to talk to you as your business moves into the transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.