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originally appeared in the May edition of Mobility Magazine.
The second definition you’ll find in the dictionary for the
word “revolution” will say something like “radical and pervasive change in
society.” That’s exactly what’s happening now that we are moving forward
rapidly into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or “Industry 4.0.”
It’s changing the way we live and work. Technological developments and digital
transformations—including advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI),
augmented reality (AR), robotics, and other innovations—are transfiguring the
workplace. What’s the impact going to be on the talent that companies need for
their evolving workforces? Will our human skills translate to a digital
There are some daunting predictions surfacing in this
regard. The McKinsey Global Institute’s research notes that 6 out of 10 current
occupations have more than 30 percent of activities that are technically
automatable. McKinsey also has estimated that globally, between 400 million and
800 million individuals could be displaced by 2030 because of automation in the
Related: Mobility 4.0: Global Talent Mobility and Immigration
That’s only part of the change that’s occurring. Not only
are the roles for workers becoming more technical, they are becoming more
strategic as well. As repetitive tasks are automated, businesses will rely on
humans to work alongside automation and to execute work that requires “hard
skills”: specific, teachable capabilities such as coding, web design, using
software programs, accounting, finance, writing, mathematics, and legal and
other quantifiable competencies.
And to make this scenario just a little more intricate,
there’s another catch: In an already stretched talent pool, companies are
finding that this changing landscape calls for people with a blend of strategic
and soft skills (such as high emotional intelligence, communication, flexibility,
creativity, decision-making, problem-solving, persuasion, leadership, and
Underscoring this concept is the top message in LinkedIn’s
2018 Workplace Learning Trends,” which notes that maintaining technical
fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fueling the
demand for adaptable critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders. In short:
“Soften the impact of automation.”
This is the most multilayered workplace we’ve ever seen, and
it is coupled with the most complex workforce we’ve experienced—one that has a
striking scarcity of talent and skills and is demographically and
generationally diverse. Coupled with a movement toward entrepreneurism and a
desire for flexibility and independence, this labor force is shifting even
further with a growing segment of contingent workers that is changing the ratio
of traditional full-time employees to gig workers. These factors foretell a
radical change in the way companies will be staffing for talent and skills
needs—and they also emphasize the need for substantive learning channels. Since
hard skills are teachable, one of the workforce solutions emerging is to hire
or redirect those with soft skills, who can then be trained for strategic roles
where companies need that type of talent.
“What we see happening in the future of work isn’t just an
employer and talent issue: All of us in the workforce must commit to a learning
focus, to recurrently seek upskilling, reskilling, and transition guidance to
prepare for new jobs or to stay relevant in current ones,” says Janelle
Piatkowski, SGMS, president and CEO of Cornerstone Relocation Group.
“Some of the actions leading companies are
offering for continuing education or upskilling include such elements as career
mentoring, leadership programs for professional training and development,
on-the-job training, developing their own in-house learning, or partnering with
universities and learning platforms.”
Mentoring, though not a classic form of training, is growing
in importance as companies develop leadership pipelines and succession plans.
In addition to directly educating their mentees, mentors can be sounding boards
for decision-making, identify professional development opportunities, discuss
career pathing, and give feedback on professional strengths. In the Heidrick
& Struggles study “Creating
a Culture of Mentorship,” more than 75 percent of respondents noted that
mentoring was a significant factor in learning about their company and its
business objectives, and in their career success. The report goes on to note
that “companies that offer mentoring effectively have a competitive edge in the
fight for talent,” because organizations with mentoring programs are viewed as
more attractive places to work and retain employees at a higher rate. “Reverse
mentoring” can also be applied, matching a junior employee with a more senior
one to close a firm’s digital skills gap or to educate about younger
generations in the interest of a more productive work environment.
Read the rest of this article in this month’s edition of Mobility
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