Workers facing up to completely retraining or reskilling to tackle technology’s impact on employment

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A recent PwC global report shows that 74% of workers are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable, seeing it as their personal responsibility, not employers, to keep their skills updated.

The report, entitled ‘Workforce of the future: the competing forces shaping 2030’ includes finding from a survey of 10,000 people from around the world. Their views reinforce a shift to continuous learning while earning, so employees can keep up with technology’s impact on jobs and the workplace.

The report examines four worlds of work in 2030, to show how competing forces, including automation, are shaping the workforces of the future. Each scenario has huge implications for the world of work, which cannot be ignored by governments, organisations or individuals.

Some 74% of respondents believe technology will improve their job prospects, while 73% believe technology will never replace the human mind and 86% say human skills will always be in demand.

Jon Williams, Australian PwC partner and joint global leader for People and Organisation, said that whilst the pace of change is accelerating and competition for jobs is fierce, workers are adapting: “Our report found that 60% of respondents believe few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future. People are shifting from a qualification that would last a lifetime to thinking about new skills every few years, matched with ongoing development of personal skills of such as risk management, leadership and emotional intelligence.”

While respondents to the survey were positive about the impact of technology, with 37% excited about the future world of work and see a world full of possibilities, there is still some concern that automation is putting some jobs at risk. Overall, 37% believe automation is putting their job at risk (up from 33% in 2014), while 56% think governments should take action needed to protect jobs from automation.

“Anxiety kills confidence and the willingness to innovate,” continued Williams. “With a third of workers worried about the future of their jobs due to automation, employers need to be having mature conversations now, to include workers in the technology debate. This will help them to understand, prepare and potentially upskill for any impact technology may have on their job in the future. The shift is nothing less than a fundamental transformation in the way we work, and organisations must not underestimate the change ahead.”

The report presents four future scenarios – or worlds – for work in 2030, to demonstrate the possible outcomes that might evolve over the next 10 years due to the impact of megatrends, artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning. It examines how workforces in each of these worlds would have adapted, as well as how technology is influencing how each of the worlds function.

“None of us can know with any certainty what the world will look like in 2030, but it’s likely facets of the four worlds will feature in some way and at some time,” Williams continued. “Machine learning and AI will help us do a much better job of workforce planning in the future, but we can’t sit back and wait for the future of work to happen. Those organisations and workers that understand potential futures, and what each might mean for them, and plan ahead, will be best prepared to succeed.”