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Lifelong Employability in the AI & Robotics Era

Automation at work is no longer a ‘someday’ thing – it is already happening. Robots and algorithms are becoming central to the workplace and both workers and employers need to figure out how to cope. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that half of today’s work activities coordinated by humans could be automated with present-day technology. And when looking into the future, researchers at Oxford predict that almost 50% of today’s jobs will disappear in the next 20 years.

However, few organizations and individuals are preparing for such an important transition. Digitalization and data analytics already brought a significant gap between the skills workers have and the skills companies need and it’s only going to get worse with automation and AI.

Demographics aren’t helping either as life expectancy keeps rising, along with the retirement age. That means we will likely spend many more years working – and therefore we will need to learn new skills. But is the formal learning that companies offer nowadays enough to prepare for this dynamic and uncertain future? It’s not enough to talk about “retraining” or “reskilling” employees; and “lifelong learning” will not sound too appealing to those who didn’t like school in the first place.

Instead, Aurum’s exclusive speaker Beth Davies, Former Director of Learning & Development at Tesla and HR expert, proposes in this exciting article she has co-authored for McKinsey that employers, employees, institutions and public-sector leaders should start talking about “lifelong employability”: continuous and successful adaptation of employees to the evolving economy and needs of the company.

In the article, they offer CEOs and senior executives a set of principles and practices to achieve the lifelong employability of their workforce:

Learn about learning

Organizations shouldn’t approach learning and development (L&D) as they did in the past, but rather take advantage of the solid research we have nowadays about what works in learning in general and adult learning in particular. Thanks to neuroscience, psychology, sociology and pedagogy, we know for example that study groups can help people process new ideas and learn more than if they would work alone. We also know that is better so keep the learning sessions to just 15-30 minutes long as it’s much more effective. Or that we should avoid certain terms such as “remedial”, which can make the worker feel he’s broken in some way.

Think competence, not college

Not all professional jobs need a college degree education, nor is it a 100% indicator of ability or mastery of a body of knowledge. Therefore, we should consider and recognize alternative credentials when we are recruiting, or when thinking about retention and job placement.

A great example of this is already happening in the software development industry, where coding “boot camps” have become and accepted source of talent for some of the best and most prestigious companies in tech.

Invest in frontline and entry-level workers

Constant turnover is costly, while having employees who grow with your company can provide valuable long-term benefits because of their deep understanding of the company’s products, culture, clients, etc.

Some companies have realized that already and offer tuition programs for workers that both increase the talent and retention numbers of their workforce. But this should not be seen by executives as mere PR stunts, but rather as strategic investments that need to be evaluated and fine-tuned as information comes in and conditions evolve.

You can find the full, original article here: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/competitive-advantage-with-a-human-dimension-from-lifelong-learning-to-lifelong-employability