As far back as 500 BCE the Greek philosopher Heracitus said change is the only thing that is constant. Technology is one of the major influences bringing about continual, if not constant, workforce change. It impacts the products and services that are delivered, how these products are created developed, and the skills that workers need to have.
Today, everyone connected to the workforce can see that technology is a major influence in causing change in the marketplace. CompTIA reports that 74 percent of businesses say technology is a primary factor in reaching their business objectives. For 55 percent of these businesses top strategic objectives include implementing new systems or work processes to enhance efficiencies, and for 47 percent the objectives are innovation, the cultivating of new ideas and putting them into practice.
Technological advances are changing the nature of the work people do. Navigating the future of work from Deloitte University Press says technology brings about workforce change for all kinds of work and workers. “Today’s advances in digital technologies are remaking not just manufacturing and low-skilled labor, the focus of past revolutions, but every sector of the economy and society.” Automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and data collection and analysis change the work people do. These advances lower the cost of routine, repetitive tasks, and expand geographic access to materials, labor and markets.
The Future of Work echoes what many other reports say about workforce change. “One result, we anticipate, will be the reconfiguration of jobs to leverage uniquely human skills: empathy, social and emotional intelligence, the ability to set context and define business problems.” Robots can do many automated tasks. They can augment the work people do, but they can’t replace characteristics and abilities that are uniquely human.
Another result of technology bringing about workforce change is the need for workers to continually upgrade their skills. They need to learn to work with new technologies and use them to enhance their job performance. And this isn’t a change that will be needed sometime in the future. It is needed now. Workers need education now. Workers need to continue their education to be able to work with technology in today’s marketplace and the technology that is yet to be developed.
The CompTIA research report Assessing the Skills Gap shows that many business executives believe they are already working with employees who don’t possess the skills necessary for working with today’s technology. Ninety-six percent of employers report that too many workers lack skills such as problem solving, analysis and logical thinking, and 93 percent believe that segments of workers are falling behind in having necessary skills. Employers believe they need to solve this problem now: 59 percent believe the priority for improving skills should be on existing employees, rather than wait for the next generation of employees.
In reality, the need for education to solve the skills gap will be a constant reality. About 800,000 IT workers are predicted to retire through 2024. The workers who replace them will face constant technological change, just as workers are today. Both employers and employees need to focus on the education they need for today’s technology and the continual education they will need as technology advances creating workplace change.
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