Can we plan for jobs that don't exist yet?

Skillsoft media roundtable addresses “disruptive tech, robots and a digital workforce”

The contentious issue of “disruptive tech, robots and a digital workforce” is the subject of eLearning and online training solution Skillsoft’s media roundtable this morning. This includes individuals from transport company, FirstGroup, and printer company Ricoh, both of which employ large numbers of people who are ripe for being ‘automated’ out.

Bev Cunningham, Senior VP, Human Resources at Ricoh is adamant that traditional printing is not dead, however, there is no denying the nature of the business is changing. And as machine repairs can now be done remotely this impacts a lot of existing jobs. To counteract this the company has forged a deal with Amazon Locker across Europe to repurpose some of its field engineering skills. Yet she clarifies “this is not going to offset the disruption of printing.”

The flip side to all this change is innovation. One interesting example from Ricoh is that some of its clients are 3D printing organs in various stages of disease to help doctors diagnose illness. The company has also developed an innovation centre in California along with small regional hubs around the world which are employing a limited number of highly skilled scientists.

Polarised examples aside though, one core challenge is to how to train the future workforce for jobs which don’t yet exist. “50% of the jobs today in our corporate office are brand new and weren’t there three years ago,” says Cunningham. She believes that one big change is that responsibility for learning is now in the hands of the individual and that better employers actively make diverse opportunities available.

The world of work is never going to be equal. And some people are better suited to acquire digital skills than others. As Tony Glass, GM, EMEA at Skillsoft concludes, “The crystal ball is pretty smoky. We need to help businesses prepare for the future. And make the right content available whether to meet internal requirements or external ambition.”



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