The world isn’t changing for the first time. First, the shift from an agrarian economy to industrial and then from industry to services, the only element that has remained constant is change. With the technological advancement and emanation of cloud computing in this rapidly changing world, re-discovering and upskilling oneself has become paramount importance to be relevant. The employers are investing heavily in upskilling and re-skilling their employees to be more productive and to remain ahead of the competition. As per McKinsey, Institute reveals that over 60 percent of executives realize the significance of re-training workers to skill them on new, innovative technologies. In this light, PwC has committed nearly USD 3 billion towards its global upskilling program over the next four years. By 2020, more than 80% of the jobs will require technological competencies.
As per the PwC Singapore report reveals that although there is a sense of uncertainty and hopelessness, a whopping 85% of respondents say that tech will make their jobs better and open up new opportunities for them. However, 50% of respondents do feel that changing tech can make them redundant. PwC has committed S$ 10 million, for its upskilling program over the next 2 years in Singapore.
How will automation and tech impact your job?
There is a rising fear the most of the current jobs will be automated or digitized. This automation of jobs will lead to a surge in the service industry, and therefore, substantial roles will get designed in service-providing occupations. Tasks of the routine nature will be carried out more efficiently by robots, but machines cannot replace the jobs that are more complex in nature and require individual touch. As per the bureau of labor statistics, by 2026, more than 90% of the posts will be in the service sector.
As per PwC reports, by 2030, AI and other forms of automation will be contributing $15trillion to global GDP. By 2030 more than 30% of the jobs have the potential risk of getting automated, and more women compared men will be affected as they occupy most of the administrative and clerical functions. Accordingly to McKinsey, there will be a 10-20% increase in the productivity of manufacturing companies if they digitized their assembly line. However, integration of industry 4.0 technology into the manufacturing unit will lead to a 300% growth in their productivity. Though this change is inevitable, the employees fear the transition leading to their redundancy.
On a positive note, automation does lead to employee benefits as well. At SATS’ e-commerce AirHub, their automation efforts increased their mailbag processing capacity by 3 times, and processing time cut to 50%. It allowed them to upskill their workers and, with their new emerging roles, lead to an increase in their salary by 10%.
Importance of Continuous Upskilling
Continuous adaptability of the workforce to the ever-evolving economic ecosystem is a need, not want. No force can stop the evolution in the business scene, and this evolution never happens in isolation. Human resources are the cornerstone of the business world, and technologies that reshape business must be well understood by the workforce so that both company and employees mutually benefit from this proposition. Countries like Japan and Korea have an 80-90% formally skilled workforce. Recently, Amazon announced to invest US$700 million to provide a training program to 100,000 employees – UpSkilling 2025.
For us, creating these opportunities is just the beginning. While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others, it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations. We think it’s important to invest in our employees to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves.
– Senior VP of Human Resource, Amazon – Beth Galetti
Upskilling offers many advantages to the employees –
- It ensures job security, enhances competencies, and helps in growing up the ladder.
- Boosts employee morale and eliminate the fear of redundancy
- Creates new opportunities and added benefits
- Wide-open newer possibilities when looking for change outside the current organization
- Helps in reducing employee attrition rate and increase in productivity
- Build agility and transformation
- Upskilling current employees help to save massive cost in onboarding new employees.
With the current pandemic, the infectious disease that has gripped the world and has created havoc in the global supply chain can be both a challenging period as well as an opportunity to realize the significance of upskilling. The businesses in the city-state and workforce haven’t remained untouched from the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19. Employers are left with no choice than to permit their workers to report to work virtually, and the directives bound workers. Working from home in itself is one complex exercise that depends on the worker’s capability to adapt to this change. From using the tech that enables work from home to be a building block of the team, various tasks require skills. COVID-19 times and the circuit breaker thing have brought a message on the importance of skilling the workforce for such exigencies.
How do we Upskill to keep Ourselves Relevant?
With more and more millennials and Gen z kids are getting employed into the various organization, the risk of retrenchment has increased for the mature employees. Therefore it is essential for the existing employees to upskilling themselves to remain afloat and relevant in a fast-changing workplace. Following are the areas to re-skills:
- Need to experiment with different roles, which helps to build diverse skills.
- Get enrolled in government-funded training programs like WSG’s professional Conversion program (PCP).
- Follow the industry leaders to keep up-to-date changing ecosystem– listening to Ted Talks, extensive reading professional articles, seeking coaching and mentorships, finding a virtual mentor.
- Pick short specialized certificate courses aligned to your industry.
- Online courses on new technology and software application
- A peer-to-peer study group helps to learn new skills from your colleagues.
- Hone soft skills like empathy, listening, and communication. These get named as power skills, as they are more important than hard skills.
- Career mapping helps in choosing the right skills to build, which may be relevant for future career growth.
- Build skills in deep technology, as more than 30% of the jobs will be automated.
- Learns about the industries that will survive for the next couple of decades – e-commerce, fintech, deep tech, HealthTech, EduTech, online gaming, and more. Build your skills around these industry requirements.
Which part of the population we need to focus on Upskilling??
Globally there are 3.3billion who are currently employed, and to upskill a billion people by 2030 is a daunting task. No single organization can do this alone; it will need a collaborative effort from all stakeholders – government, policymakers, education, and business leaders. To reach out to the entire society, we need to focus on parts of the population.
The Current Workforce: People who are already employed have a lot many responsibilities on their shoulders. Household commitments, which include paying rents, mortgage, school fees, and the societal pressure to grow one’s standard of living, are ever-present. Businesses, trade unions, trainers, government authorities and all other stakeholders are to come together to ensure that the present labor force doesn’t lack the requisite skills to stay ahead of the curve. Many members in this segment are mature and aged individuals that may be averse to any change, and even when they are motivated to adopt, it may be a complex exercise to learn. And hence, focus on their upskilling program is always desired.
The Upcoming Youth: Globally, this segment of the population is termed the demographic dividend. Singaporeans, who are set to join the workforce in the upcoming years, are many. Although the city-state ranks high in the PISA ranking for school learning, skilling the youth for specific requirements of various industries is just as important. Those below the age of 20 will be the youngest members of the labor force in the coming years, and they must bring with them the desired skillsets. The youth are a subset of the population that can quickly adapt to the latest and emerging technologies in the business world. With them, they can bring the organization the much-needed versatility on diverse tech advancements.
The Ones Out of Workforce : It is equally essential to upskilled the retired force or the older generation. Singapore government offers grants to employers whose employees workforce above 55 years. Similarly, women may opt to remain out of a job for a considerable time to devote more time to family. With the new norm of working from home, a large extend of women’s workforce can reinstate into the organization. For this to happen, these workforces must get taught the latest skills.
It is considerably understandable that when upskilling is talked about, there cannot be a single one-size-fits-all model. Upskilling involves recognizing which persons can be imparted the upskilling training quickly and devising a robust infrastructure to undertake the exercise. It is needless to mention that much of the disruption caused in the business ecosystem of today is led by the digital revolution that includes big data, automation, and data science. Let’s know more with one example. Jurong Port in the city-state has come up with the Jurong Port Academy that focuses on developing a future-ready labor force without having to look outside but by upskilling those already employed in the organization. The plan includes upskilling on new Tech and the latest advances in the port industry, with a dedicated focus on automation and manual labor reduction.
As we realize from the above discussion, from executives to employees, every stakeholder in the today’s world is well aware of the needs of upskilling. Most of the participants in surveys have exhibited optimism towards changes in technologies that shape how people carry out their tasks. The sufficient time that the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed employees who are reporting to work from home can be best used to upskill and re-discover oneself to remain relevant.