We are now over 18 months into the pandemic and we have seen disruption impacting every facet of life. While technology equipped businesses with the means to survive in a world where travel was restricted and borders were shut, it has also resulted in permanent structural changes. The clear distinction between working in the office and working from home has blurred with organizations increasingly looking at adopting a hybrid working model. But are we ready to face the new hybrid world of work that will be powered by automation and technology?
Even before the pandemic, skilling was helping the talent pool face the fast-changing demands of the markets. Global megatrends that included newer technologies, shifts in demographics, and migration coupled with globalization had already begun to show their effects with the loss of some jobs and the creation of new opportunities at the same time. The pandemic just put this on the fast track! The coming years are going to see an increasing pace of technology adoption driven by AI, ML, Big Data and Cloud Computing.
A World Economic Forum (WEF) report on the Future of Jobs speaks of tasks, jobs and skills transforming by 2025, which is merely four years away! However, while 43 percent of businesses are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration and the resultant demand for tech skills, we also have 34 percent planning to expand their workforce for the very same reason. This is a kind of double-disruption that is taking place - making certain jobs redundant, while also creating jobs that require new skills. This makes it clear that there will continue to be a demand for talent, but this will be specific to talent that is equipped with the skills needed for future job requirements. The need, therefore, is for a future-ready talent strategy with a focus on developing talent that is resilient, innovative, emotionally intelligent and high on cognitive and metacognitive abilities.
There is already a realisation about this with the WEF report indicating a 4X increase in individuals going in for online learning. Skilling through online courses is being supported & encouraged by the global business community as well as Governments. The demand for courses in data analytics, computer science and information technology is a sign of the times to come.
Talented developers are much in demand today, but will this continue? A new version of platforms to write software today uses automation to allow individuals without coding skills to write applications with the click of a few buttons that are either completely or partially visual, helping users put together components. These no-code or low-code software writing platforms can help organizations deliver software 10 times faster than traditional programming. While these platforms have not yet replaced developers, Gartner has predicted that 65 percent of app development will happen on low-code platforms by 2024.
Furthermore, many businesses today are still grappling with the challenges of the cyber-physical Industry 4.0 with AI & ML, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, VR & AR, smart wearables, cloud computing, nanotechnology and more changing the way we live and work and creating new business models. However, it is important to begin to prepare for Industry 5.0 where collaboration between man and machine will take centre stage while ensuring that the human, social and environmental dimensions are part of the equation even as machines do much of the mundane work.
Going forward, humans with more meaningful jobs will guide machines with intelligence which are uniquely “humane” to tackle situations such as deploying AI for weather forecasts to avoid fatalities from Natural disasters. AI is being deployed to map weather forecasts that are more accurate and granular. Therefore, technology is coming together to offer improved climate predictions for the next 100 years.
Therefore, a future-ready talent strategy will need to focus on taking the “mundane low intelligence low impact” toolsets and skillsets and build the entire set of mindset, skillsets and toolsets of a higher-order intelligence that will ensure humans not compete which machines but work with them for a greater common good. The game is changing and a future-ready talent strategy is the only way businesses can adapt and succeed. The time to start is now!