How’s Your Future Skills Economy?

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Human Resources is in the “predicting the future” business these days.  Leaders are constantly and consistently asking for what should the company be preparing.  As much as HR would like to be able to deliver a definitive answer, the reality is it’s just not possible.  HR leaders can read data and see trends and, with the right experience and skills, can derive what the future will look like, but again, it’s all a guess.

It’s the same for learning leaders.  What skills will employees need heading in to the future?  Should we train more specialists or should we have more generalists?  Should we consider the continued influence of technology or should we not give it that much weight?

All valid questions and all that point to the idea of developing a robust future skills economy.

Future Skills Economy

Defining the economy

Think about the transformative history of work over the years.  Humans started out as hunter/gathers and, over 150 millennia, transitioned into an agrarian society.  Just within the last 200 years, we moved from farmers into the industrial age.  Today, we are on the cusp of a new revolution and technology is at the lead.  It’s important to understand this as it helps to understand what a skills economy is in reality.

A skills economy is basically the set of skills employees in any given industry are expected to possess.  If we adapt that phrase and put it in the context of the future, it describes the set of skills those same employees are expected to possess as jobs change in the years to come.

Impact of Technology

As mentioned earlier, technology is going to force that change.  Artificial Intelligence, automation, robotics, machine learning, 3D printing and more is going to change the way employees work in the years to come.

A report from Gartner predicts AI alone will eliminate 1.8 million jobs, but at the very same time create 2.3 million jobs by 2020.  Forbes reports 83 percent of businesses say AI is a strategic priority.  Additionally 61 percent of businesses say artificial intelligence and machine learning are the most significant data initiative for the next year.  That’s according to MemSQL.

3D printing will change manufacturing jobs and the types of products consumers purchase.  Forbes says 51 percent of enterprises say 3D printing is already part of their production process.  80 percent of enterprises say, again, according to Forbes, 3D printing has increased the rate of innovation. 

What about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?  According to Deloitte, nearly every company will be using some form of RPA within the next five years.  By the end of 2019, Gartner projects RPA software spending will total $1.3 billion.

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Building the Future Skills Economy

Whether you believe that or not - there’s a clear need to drive a new skilling strategy for the future of the organization.  With some jobs being taken over by AI and automation, employers and employees realize they need to learn skills that increase their employability and prepare them for the future of work.

So where does this leave learning and development?

The learning industry is quickly becoming the face of this new future skills economy. Learning leaders have to prepare teams to be the business’ secret weapon for competitive differentiation. L&D needs to spark innovation to support, grow skills (future and in-demand skills) and enable organizations as key business partners.

So how do learning experts rise to the challenge?

In their webinar, L&D’s Role in Enabling the Future of Work with a Skills Focused Strategy, Degreed Director of Learning Services Caroline Soares and Learning Strategist Darren Nerland explore how technology is creating a new future skills economy and the ways in which L&D can support learning for the future.

From this webinar:

  • Explore how learning technologies are creating future skills economies
  • Visualize future roles, skills, insights in your organization 
  • Investigate and test new ways of learning to upskill and reskill employees 

The webinar is free-to-attend.  Register here.

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