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Digital solutions drive upskilling and reskilling to create the workforce of the future

The Covid-19 pandemic that first swept around the world in 2020 changed the way billions of people work. But an even bigger revolution is coming as digitalisation transforms business operations, cultures and the experiences of leaders and workers alike.

Entire business ecosystems will have to adapt to embrace a future of work that looks little like that which we took for granted before the pandemic.

Automation for the people

Delegates at the European SDG Summit heard one familiar worry about the future of work debunked by Jurgen Siebel, Executive Director of CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. He told a session entitled Digital Transition Serving the Future of Work, that “most jobs will not be replaced by automation.” 



Siebel went on to say that “jobs requiring higher levels of qualifications are much more shielded from automation” adding that jobs in ICT are among those least likely to disappear. 

 The upskilling imperative

A more accurate scenario for the future of work is that people employed in the professions of the future will work alongside AI and machine learning systems which will deal with the more mundane or routine tasks. What we are seeing, says Jurgen Siebel, is a trend where jobs are changing from within rather than humans being replaced by machines. In turn this is creating a demand for upskilling and reskilling like we have rarely, if ever seen before.

Siebel told delegates that around 40% of the European population, that’s almost 130 million people, have the potential to improve their skills.  






Siebel also detailed the key sectors where upskilling will be essential for workers to succeed in the workforce of the future. “There is an increasing demand for workers with good command of business ICT systems...for software and web development, data analytical skills and ICT skills for setting up networks.” Siebel added, “there's a much stronger emphasis on business transformation skills...creative design management styles to accommodate for a socially distanced workforce.”

Closing the skills gap

Many of the concepts being discussed in the Digital Transition Serving the Future of Work session are already being played out in organisations around the world. But it should be noted that there is no one-size fits all approach to upskilling and reskilling. Every company must shape its own transformation in line with business priorities.

Closing the Skills Gap, a collaboration between Tata Consultancy Services and the World Economic Forum, found that, “successful organization wide upskilling can only be fully achieved if an organization fully commits to the long-term learning and development of its workforce and takes the initiative to align such programmes to the company’s business strategy and growth objectives”. 

The Closing the Skills Gap project has established global and national platforms to address critically needed skills to re-shape education and training for the future. TCS created a dedicated online platform that enabled several leading companies such as Nokia, Barclays, British Telecom, and Mercer, to make measurable commitments to skills development, share insights, and offer best practices.

Transformation in practice

Back at the European SDG Summit, Frédéric Gimenez, Chief Digital Officer at TotalEnergies shared insights about the company’s Digital Factory, of which he is Managing Director.

He told the Digital Transition Serving the Future of Work session that this fully digital ecosystem is driven by a desire for constant upskilling. “We need to be a learning organisation, learning by classical training but also with a community of practice sharing training, (we have) a lot of new ways of training the people, and it's permanent training.”

Natalia Roldan, DHR and Head of Talent & Culture at TotalEnergies Digital Factory summarised the discussion with an example of how this new digital ecosystem will likely become the norm in the near future. “What we see is that technology is changing the workplace, but more importantly the biggest change is the mindset shift that's coming through all of this.

“It's our capacity to learn and to learn quickly, to be able to adapt to our environment, that's what will enable the workforce of today, to survive in the workplace of tomorrow.”