The skills that will power an automated workplace

The skills that will power an automated workplace

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs report recently predicted that by 2020 more than one third of the skills that will be required are not yet considered critical and are not being taught in universities and colleges today.

Another report by global consulting leader, Mercer, titled: 2017 Global Talent Trends, has found 92% of Australian C-suite executives will make structural changes within their organisation over the next two years to increase responsiveness, productivity, agility and innovation.

Andrew Fletcher, head of learning at Mercer, told L&D Professional that key skills and data to consider from Mercer’s report that are consistent with the one released by the WEF.

“One of these key skills is leadership and professional development. Australia ranked this the number one thing that would make a positive impact to their work situation ‘leaders who set clear direction’,” Fletcher said.

“Another is innovation. 50% of companies say they gather innovation ideas from employees but only 26% invest in innovation skills training.”

Fletcher said digital and data analytics are other skills that require a strong focus as the economy shifts to a more automated model.

“Less than 10% of organisations consider themselves digital while only 35% of executives believe HR provides a digital experience. Learning initiatives are often left aside as they sit low on company core strategic objectives,” he explained.

To create an effective learning strategy, Fletcher says learning initiatives should reflect the essence of the organisations strategy with particular attention around how to engage talent.

One of these is the 4C’s model, covered in Learning Strategy for the C Suite. They include: capability; capacity; compliance and culture. The 4C's

“Engaging stakeholders to face issues of change, innovation and agility requires debate, right answers and a general consensus,” Fletcher said.

“Given that today’s talent agenda issues combine difficulties in strategy, structure, skill and governance both within and outside the organisation, it is essential to create an environment with a clear focus on education.”

However, another challenge is measuring the impact that employees’ education is actually having. Indeed, there are a range of important factors to consider before considering how to measure ROI.

Bruce Tulgan, CEO of Rainmaker Thinking, says it can be hard to measure the impact of training on changes in knowledge and skill because people tend to develop improved aptitude with experience and practice – not just from training.

“This means it can be difficult to separate the two, but even when one conducts evaluation strictly before and after training, it is much harder to measure changes in soft skills than in technical skills,” Tulgan told L&D Professional.

“Indeed, it is simply harder to evaluate soft skills in a measurable way. That’s not because they are not critical, but rather because they are less tangible, more subjective, and more variable in the range of perceived failure to excellence.”

Andres Jonmundsson, head of learning and development at Fuji Xerox Australia, told L&D Professional that due to the complexity and effort involved, measuring ROI is something that is not done particularly well by many organisations.

“A more interesting concept of ‘return on impact’ has been gaining more momentum and seems to provide an alternative perspective,” Jonmundsson said.

“The thinking behind this is to identify the desired impact of the training and seeing if that impact was met.”