How Can We Work With Robots? Developing Digital Competencies

November 16, 2018 Richard Justenhoven

digital competencies

The Digitalization Of Jobs

‘Automation will replace millions of jobs’. This is the type of headline we have got used to in recent months. But, it was interesting to read a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggesting that we have far less to fear from robots in the workplace than some may think. But it may mean that, as humans, we need to develop more digital competencies.

The WEF predicts not just the displacement by robots of around 75 million jobs across the world by 2022, but the creation of 133 million new jobs. This gives a net positive of 58 million jobs. Of course, some disagree with the figures and argue that there can be no guarantee that lost jobs will be replaced. Nonetheless, the use of automation will free up workers and offer opportunity for learning new tasks. This shift is being talked about as the fourth industrial revolution.

The WEF comment that robots and algorithms will “vastly improve” the productivity of existing jobs and lead to many new ones in the coming years. It suggests that there could be a growth in the numbers of data analysts, software developers and social media specialists. It also suggests a growth of jobs with what it refers to as “distinctively human traits” (e.g. customer service workers and teachers).

The shift in jobs and roles will cause “significant disruption” with some roles becoming “increasingly redundant”. The WEF report comments that robots could quickly replace positions in accounting firms, factories and office based roles such as secretarial posts. In July 2018, PwC predicted Artificial Intelligence would create as many jobs in the UK as it would displace over the next 20 years.

But working in such a digital environment will need a change in behaviour, ways of working and skill by employees.

We will need to embrace – and make use of – the technology around us. This is what we know as Digital Competencies.

Organizations are already gearing themselves up for the dramatic changes we will see in the coming years and identifying and developing these digital competencies in its candidates and employees. Learning new tasks and new competencies will require development, training and re-skilling and this will become a new challenge for HR and Learning & Development practitioners.

What is your organization doing to meet the digital challenges?

About the Author

Richard Justenhoven

Richard Justenhoven is the product development director within Aon's Assessment Solutions. A leading organizational psychologist, Richard is an acknowledged expert in the design, implementation and evaluation of online assessments and a sought after speaker about such topics.

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