We are currently on the verge of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. The likes of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things are fundamentally changing how people across the world live and work. As Forbes puts it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is challenging what it means to be human. To remain competitive, businesses need to reskill and upskill their teams to ensure digitalisation boosts productivity and enables choice.

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2022, 54% of all employees will need significant reskilling to meet the new demands of their careers. At least 133 million new jobs will be created as machines and algorithms shift the requirements for humans in the workplace.

New skills are needed across sectors – not simply to fulfil new roles in technology-driven firms. The nature of jobs and how people navigate their careers is changing drastically. In times of change, the need to evolve is critical. Businesses that embrace training in new skills and technology will be the ones that retain talent as workers increasingly look for development, flexibility and choice in their careers.

An ever-widening skills gap

We are on the brink of a talent shortage crisis. If the current skills gap trend is left to run its course, a Korn Ferry study estimates that 8.2 million jobs will be left unfilled.

It is affecting every sector. OECD research found that 40% of people who use software at work don’t know how to do so effectively. Digital tools promise to make people’s roles easier and more productive, but it is only possible if those using them can make the most of their features. This lack of comprehension is only set to grow, unless businesses step in and take the lead to build vital skills.

The need for people remains

Although people are concerned that their jobs are at risk, humans have skills that machines simply cannot replace. Communication and negotiation require creativity, people skills and a personal touch. Innovation needs imaginative thinking, which is impossible for robots to perform – they would, in fact, have to learn this from people.

Machines are excellent at generating and analysing vast amounts of data at ground-breaking speed, but unless someone can use it to make good decisions, it is futile. Businesses are at risk of adopting new technologies for the sake of staying up to date.

Real value comes from tools that integrate into businesses and work alongside people. There is a need across sectors to develop skills that make it possible for individuals to work in more intelligent and flexible ways. Businesses are in danger of losing their best talent if they don’t recognise the need for individuals to develop and have freedom of choice within their careers.

An agile, confident workforce

Individuals who identify the shift in their careers will continually look to upskill to remain sought-after. There is likely to be a growing trend of ‘job-hopping’, as workers move to new companies to broaden their skillsets. This adaptation to change will make them more agile and give them the confidence to shape their own careers.

The war for talent will only become fiercer as skills shortages increase and those with these skills have the foresight to take advantage of better opportunities. Yet this competition opens an opportunity for businesses to lead with values and encourage learning, growth and flexibility.

The chance to empower

Successful businesses will internalise the need for change. Talent is about more than knowledge – it comes down to the ability to adapt, make good decisions and think creatively. Rather than looking to replace talent from outside sources, businesses can empower their workforces by upskilling and reskilling individuals where roles change completely. Giving individuals a choice over how they develop within the company will make employers even more attractive.

Suddenly, the need to move to a different company becomes unnecessary.

Getting the value from digitalisation

Businesses need to take a humane attitude to digitalisation. There is, first and foremost, an ethical motivation to keeping people central to a company’s purpose. Additionally, when employees are given the skills to use digital tools effectively, they can use them to work towards a business’s goals.

Upskilling and reskilling for digitalisation is an investment in innovation, productivity and creating a more flexible, empowered workforce. Courses are quick way for businesses to make their employees’ skills more adapted to the workplace environment. They work well when combined with wellbeing programmes that will also enrich employees’ lives.

Forbes – The 4th Industrial Revolution Is Here - Are You Ready?
World Economic Forum - The digital skills gap is widening fast. Here’s how to bridge it
Korn Ferry – The Global Talent Crunch Study
OECD Study – Delivering Digital Skills