Prepare for Increased Technology in the Workplace

By Kathleen Eischeid, Business Development Coordinator

The growth rate of technology in the workplace is accelerating. Problems employers face hiring workers with the right skills are growing. Years ago, Frank Sinatra crooned “When an irresistible force meets an immovable object – something’s gotta give.” Since it appears that the growth of technology in the workplace seems to be an unstoppable force, the workforce can’t be immovable if employers and employees are to thrive.

That means that employers and their employees have to give. Employees can’t be an immovable force. They need to seek training in order to learn to work with technology in the workplace. “In order to thrive in the 2020s, employees will need to interface more frequently with machines, AI, and robots,” says Jason Wingard, Dean of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University. Wingard says that the idea of a three-stage life with education, work and retirement has to change. Employees should be looking at a multi-stage life that includes many careers and periods of education to learn new skills. And this isn’t far off in some distant future. This change has to come now. The World Economic Forum predicts that 1.4 million US workers could be displaced by their current job by the end of the 2020s.

This news isn’t all doom and gloom. That figure from the World Economic Forum says that while workers are displaced from their current jobs, there will be jobs available. Workers will simply need to train to move on. Lumina Foundation predicts that by 2022 automation and technology will actually create 58 million more jobs than it replaces.

And management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that 27 percent of these new jobs will be in roles that don’t exist yet. This means that workers need retraining now and will need retraining again in the future. Increasing technology in the workplace means that, ”Skills are becoming obsolete at an increasingly fast rate – technical skills for example, are outdated in two to five years – heightening the need for reskilling and upskilling,” reports BCG.

Employees and Employer Retraining Responsibilities

Many people feel threatened by technology in the workplace. Professional services network company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says to look at technology and innovation through a different lens. Their Workforce of the future report states, “This is less about technological innovation and more about the manner in which humans decide to use that technology.” Employees that look to the future will be valuable in working with technology. If they engage in retraining and higher education, they won’t find themselves with outdated skills. If they seek education advising and career counseling they will know where to focus retraining efforts for their best advantage. PwC Global Leader Carol Stubbings says, “The secret for a bright future seems to me to lie in flexibility and the ability to reinvent yourself.” Employers play a vital role in helping workers adjust and reinvent themselves. When they support employees with tuition assistance programs they are ensuring their employees can use new technology in the workforce. They are ensuring that their employees have viable skills, and that their businesses can be productive.

Workers know that they need to learn new skills to work with technology in the workplace. A Lumina Foundation report states that 58 percent of workers say their jobs have changed over the past five years and 94 percent realize that they need new skills to perform their jobs and advance in their careers. Edcor designs tuition assistance programs so their clients support employee education. With unique TAP programs employers can build on the strengths of their individual employees. Developing career paths for employees and using education advising to support an efficient education path, make it possible for these clients to create a dynamic workforce that changes along with technology innovation.