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How automation will impact the next generation of work

How automation will impact the next generation of work futurecity crop 600x338

To remain viable, workers will need to beef up their skills in creativity, collaboration and communication. (Image: Shutterstock)

Artificial intelligence, data analytics and other emerging automated technologies are not only going to impact low-wage workers, but also highly compensated executives and other professionals – and employers should be helping them to prepare now for the digital New World, according to Guardian’s report, “The Next Generation of Work.”

Most workers shouldn’t fear their jobs will become obsolete, though – only about 5 percent of all jobs will be phased out entirely due to automation, according to the report. However, most jobs will continue to change and workers will be redeployed, and to remain viable, workers will need to beef up their skills in creativity, collaboration and communication.

That will take workers learning more specialized skills — but to date, many have not and hence, they risk becoming less valued in their current work environment, according to the report. A minority of working Americans have taken on a new role at their current employer (23 percent), been cross-trained (18 percent), made a career change (12 percent) or returned to school for further education (11 percent).

“A more technology-enabled workplace is creating a widening gap between the skills employees possess and the skills employers require,” the authors write. “Job openings increasingly are in occupations that require higher-level social or analytic skills; physical or manual skills are fading somewhat in importance.”

Some of the strategies that Guardian recommends for employers to adapt to an increasingly digitized workplace include modernizing the workforce by reinventing the recruiting, hiring and training processes; closing existing skills gaps and building competencies in business technology, communication, writing and problem-solving; enabling the organization to anticipate and respond to on-demand talent needs, or to secure specific skills required to remain competitive in the evolving workplace; adapting workplace strategies for the millions of working Americans (many of them millennials) who embrace a new work paradigm and choose flexible or remote work arrangements and non-traditional career paths; and implementing a change management strategy that enables the organization — from top to bottom — to overcome barriers to success in a more automated and digital world.

Other study highlights include:

  • Twice as many businesses expect total employment to increase (38 percent) in the next five years compared to those anticipating downsizing (16 percent). Jobs will continue to change and workers will be re-deployed and require skills in creativity, collaboration and communication.

  • Millennials are more likely to embrace opportunities to acquire new skills, such as taking on a new role, cross-training, making a career change or returning to school. Gen Xers, who still have 10 to 25 years before retirement, are less likely to have taken steps to improve skills. One in five Baby Boomers would retire when faced with significant work/job changes.

  • Nearly four in ten employers indicate that staffing (including recruiting, hiring and training) is a top business challenge for their organization.

  • One in five U.S. companies expect an increase in their agile workforce in the coming five years as younger generations lean toward non-traditional employment arrangements, flexible schedules, part-time/contingent and non-permanent positions.


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