Humans currently perform 71% of work tasks, according to the World Economic Forum. But by 2025, machines will overtake humans in the number of work tasks they perform.
This evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace will naturally affect roles as we know them (75 million roles are predicted to be displaced between now and 2022), however, it could actually create many, many more – up to 133 million new roles.
In the face of this change, we are seeing the emergence of a blended workforce consisting of standard employment, gig and contract workers, and now machines. The balance of this workforce will be critical in successfully navigating the AI induced job replacement and displacement, with the gig economy complementing and amplifying human and robot potential.
During this period, the workforce and the workplace will undergo unprecedented transformation with the scarcity of talent affecting all industries. Most notably, the tech industry as we collectively struggle to source the talent required to keep up with the new roles automation creates.
We often tend to overstate the near term and understate the long term. Forecasting new skills are critical to the success of this new learning model and we need to approach this carefully considering the gap in digital skills today. Employers need to be at the forefront of this change – the primary responsibility lies with them – and become enablers to create a workplace which makes it easier for people to skill and re-skill.
In addition to forecasting new skills, we need to democratise certain skills, especially design thinking. Employers need to be facilitators of the design process, and it needs to be institutional-ised across the company to empower every developer, data scientist, CEO and other contributors to be great design thinkers.
So how do you prepare for this changing workforce? Here are three things I believe each employer should consider.
Changing work arrangements
Traditionally, the workforce is made up of employer-employee relationship where the employee is paid a wage or a salary. However, the growing gig economy is based on temporary, project-based employment; workers are hired to complete a particular task.
This new segment of the workforce that includes freelancers, temporary agencies, self-employed individuals, and subcontractors, will lead to a workforce that is more skilled and specialised. This is complemented by millennials and Gen Z seeking speci c projects instead of applying to a permanent role, making it a highly mobile workforce.
Employers need to adapt their hiring process and packages available in order to attract and retain the best talent for the task in hand.
Need for continuous learning
With consumer demands rapidly changing, new technologies pervading industries, and new business models coming into play, we are seeing an important shift in the mindset of organisations to develop a culture of continuous learning.
Similarly, consumers today demand a personalised experience from every interaction with a brand – a trend slowly making its way into the workforce. Today’s employees are increasingly drawn to companies that provide a personalised approach to professional development by offering a range of educational opportunities to suit individual cases.
At Infosys Australia, we focus on training and upskilling our new and existing employees by offering them access to its corporate university, Lex. We firmly believe in continuous learning, so this isn’t a one-course tick-in-the-box exercise, but an ongoing educational resource for employees to tap into whenever they wish.
The future growth of Australia’s technology sector cannot happen unless people in all stages of their career are constantly reskilling and/or upskilling to ensure their capabilities match industry demand.
Modular learning with a focus beyond STEM
We will also see a shift within the university ecosystem from where new talent emerges. Today university programs are designed in a T-model, wherein students can learn a breadth of different subjects across, for example, Engineering, with a depth in a certain area like Computer Science.
That model will likely be disrupted – we are already seeing early signs of it as micro credentials are becoming more popular. Learning will become more modular and skills like creativity, design thinking, and anthropology become critical given an ever-increasing focus on a human-centred design approach.
We recognise the need to develop a model that can complement talent from STEM, liberal arts and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) to ensure we have the cross-functional understanding of skills, so we are better prepared for the future workforce.
It’s all about forecasting skills for both the near term and long term and empowering our employees to upskill to ensure we are all prepared. No-one wants to be left behind.
Ashok Mysore has over 26 years of industry experience across Telecommunications, Financial Services, Logistics, Energy, Utilities and Services industries. He is the Vice President and the Infosys Regional Head of Delivery and Operations for Australia and New Zealand, where he is responsible for developing a performance driven culture among a group of diverse and talented individuals to achieve accelerated profitable growth by delivering value while continuously improving internal efficiencies.