Reskilling Technological Disruption

Automation has flared up a worry of potential job cuts across the world among industrialists, skilled employees, and economists. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has caused disruption in various sectors such as manufacturing, BPO, automobile, and others. Many research organizations have rung a bell on huge number of jobs being axed by the next decade due to automation. Many experts opined that AI would be a boon for employees who would acquire skills to work with them and put an axe on employees with low-skilled jobs. The issue of potential unemployment would put a huge pressure on country’s economy.

Leaders of various countries at the World Economic Forum have been concerned about reskilling employees. Along with skills that employees possess, the industry needs to train them to work with AI systems. According to a report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, published by the World Economic Forum, the global economy would face a reskilling crisis as nearly 1.4 million jobs in the U.S. alone would be cut due to technology disruption and automation.

The report sheds a light on the effect of wave of automation brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It analyzed around 1,000 job types, which offers 96% of employment in the U.S. The report finds that 57% of the jobs to be cut due to automation belongs to women. If asked to shift to another job that matches their skills, 16% of employees would find no opportunities, while 25% would match only one to three jobs. Only 2% of employees would have more than 50 options. The finding of the report also suggested that reskilling would lead employees to have at least 48 job options. Moreover, at least 24 of those options involve higher wages.

The research was conducted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group. It also outlined that the reskilling would economically beneficial for not only employees but also businesses. Reskilling would help an employee earn more $15,000 on an average and help businesses find talent for the jobs that might have remained unfulfilled. The report highlighted that coordinated upskilling efforts are needed to bring reskilling revolution.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, said, “The only limiting factor on a world of opportunities for people is the willingness of leaders to make investments in re-skilling that will bridge workers onto new jobs. This report shows that this investment has very high returns for businesses as well as economies – and ensures that workers find a purpose in their lives.”

The reskilling would impact masses across the world based on gender too. The report suggested, without reskilling, at-risk men would have 22 transition options. However, at-risk women would have only 12 options. With reskilling, men would have 80 transition options, while, women would have 49. The option gaps between men and women narrows with reskilling.

The report outlined that people who would adapt best during reskilling would have “hybrid skills”, which include critical thinking, collaboration, extensive knowledge, and deeper understanding of specific areas. Moreover, for the transition to take place successfully, collaborative efforts by businesses, stakeholders, and policy makers are needed to plan workforce and invest efficiently.

However, the future is uncertain for jobs. It is not in our hands to determine how exactly the scenario will change. But what we can do is take necessary measures to build a future that will enable people to achieve their maximum potential sufficient for entire lifetime.