According to a recent World Economic Forum (WEF) survey of employers from around the globe, technology is poised to reshape the workforce in the next five years. The wider-spread use of emerging technologies like automation and big data will make it faster and easier for businesses to find efficiencies, eliminate redundancies and create new opportunities.
Along with all of this change comes the danger of a growing skills gap–a mismatch between the skills that are available in the labour market and the skills that are needed for available jobs. So, what can you do to keep your business ahead of a skills gap?
Get ready to adapt
Whether you’re an early adopter or late to the party, changes are on their way. While no one knows for sure what the future holds, it’s a pretty safe bet that automation and big data are going to have an increasingly large role to play in business.
Automation is the use of machines to perform tasks without direct human oversight. In the current workplace, approximately 71% of task-hours are performed by humans and 29% by machines. By 2022, the WEF estimates that this will shift to 58% of task-hours performed by humans and 42% performed by machines.
Big data is the use of massive data sets to generate insights and forecast trends. Using big data, organizations can measure activities–like consumer behaviour–and make it much easier to achieve desirable outcomes–like making a sale. According to businesses surveyed by the WEF, by 2022, 85% of businesses are likely to have expanded their adoption of big data analytics.
In the coming years, certain roles will be displaced by more cost-effective automated processes. And big data makes it possible to fine-tune and eliminate inefficient business strategies. But along with all of this looming obsolescence, comes the emergence of new types of roles that demand new skill sets.
Stay connected and informed
Developing an awareness of broad business technology changes is useful. But the particular ways that these changes will affect your business will be industry-specific. The best way to keep up-to-date on new technology in your industry is to stay informed on industry trends:
- Subscribe to trade journals
- Attend trade shows and other network events
- Find and follow leaders in your industry on social media
- Join and become active in region or industry-specific social media groups
- Set up news feeds and Google alerts for industry-specific news
- Keep up to date on new government or industry regulations
- Research new industry-specific software and best practices
- Keep an eye on your competition–they’re likely trying to come up with creative solution to the same problems as you
If you’re running a successful business, you are likely already doing a lot of these activities. But arming yourself with information is the first step to making sure you don’t fall into a skills gap.
Keep your staff trained and develop talent
To stay competitive, you have to surround yourself with a team that has the appropriate skills to match the changing technological landscape. That means that you may need to invest in training for your staff. According to the WEF, in the next 4 years “all industries expect sizable skills gaps, stating that at least 50% of their workforce will require reskilling.”
Along with technologically-oriented skills, certain skills–which have a uniquely human quality–are also likely to become more valuable. Things like customer service skills may become increasingly important in the next few years as machines are not (yet) able to replicate them. As you are thinking about upskilling your staff for technology roles, keep some of the more “human” skills in mind too.
Understanding the new challenges your staff will face means understanding what they do. While you’re upskilling and reskilling your staff, don’t forget about yourself. As much as 40% of WEF- surveyed employers see skills gaps at the leadership level as a key barrier to adopting new technology.
In addition to helping you stay competitive, making staff training a priority can also help you attract and retain quality employees. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, on-the-job training and upskilling is one of the best indicators of employee retention with “73 percent of those who plan to stay with their employers more than five years say their organizations are strong providers of education and training.”
If you’re looking to train staff on new technology, we can help. The Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) is a government subsidy that offsets the cost of training new and existing employees. For more information on COJG and how we can help, contact us today.