The pace of change is accelerating
Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means what it did ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today. How can organisations prepare for a future that few of us can define? How will your talent needs change? How can you attract, keep and motivate the people you need? And what does all of this mean for Universities and HR?
This isn’t a time to sit back and wait for events to unfold. To be prepared for the future one has to understand it. In this article we look in detail at how the workplace might be shaped over the coming decade.
These are some of the questions from PwC’s paper titled ‘Workforce of the future – competing forces shaping 2030’ released recently. The future of work asks us to consider what influence the continuing march of technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will have on where we work and how we work. Will we need to work at all? What is our place in an automated world?
Many commentators focus on technology and the role that automation is predicted to have on jobs and the workplace. We believe the real story is far more complicated. This is less about technological innovation and more about the manner in which humans decide to use that technology. The shape that the workforce of the future takes will be the result of complex, changing and competing forces.
The megatrends are the tremendous forces reshaping society and, with it, the world of work: the economic shifts that are redistributing power, wealth, competition and opportunity around the globe, the disruptive innovations, radical thinking, new business models and resource scarcity are impacting every sector, and education is no exception. How humans respond to the challenges and opportunities that the megatrends bring will determine the worlds in which the future of work plays out
The future of jobs and drivers of change
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will interact with a range of additional socio-economic and demographic factors affecting our country, resulting in major disruptions to labour markets, growth in wholly new occupations, new ways of organising and coordinating work, new skills requirements in all jobs and new tools to augment workers’ capabilities.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, the top five drivers of change in South Africa from 2015 to 2020 include: big data, the changing nature of work / flexible work, the middle class in emerging markets, mobile internet/cloud technology and geopolitical volatility.
What is likely to be the jobs impact of these changes?
In addition, while jobs are declining, remaining stable or growing, they are also going through major changes. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs analysis found that, just in South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 as compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015.
New and emerging technologies such as smart mobile phones, wearable devices and sensors, cloud-based IT, advanced analytics and the Internet of Things are changing business and operating models across all sectors, including higher education. These technologies present new opportunities to improve or redefine the university experience through activities including teaching and learning, research and working on complex projects with other universities and partner organisations. New ideas can also be tried out with minimum upfront investment.
The current spread of education and skills across generations and the expected future trajectory of jobs point to particular strategies for the region to ensure that it is prepared for the labour markets of the future.
Recent World Economic Forum research on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, developed through in-depth consultation with leading experts and practitioners, recommends a number of levers for creating stronger education systems, including: 1) expanded access to earlychildhood education; 2) ensuring the ‘future-readiness’ of curricula; 3) investing in developing and maintaining a professionalised teaching workforce; 4) early exposure to the workplace and career guidance; 5) investing in digital fluency and ICT literacy skills; 6) providing robust and respected technical and vocational education and training (TVET); 7) creating a culture of lifelong learning; and 8) openness to education innovation.
All eight areas apply to the African region, which must ensure that access is universal, that leadership of reforms is drawn from multiple sectors and that new education systems are designed for the long term, while maintaining the agility to cope with the constant pace of change.
There are four particular areas for strategic focus: ensuring the ‘futurereadiness’ of curricula, especially through a focus on STEM fields; investing in digital fluency and ICT literacy skills; providing robust and respected technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and creating a culture of lifelong learning, including the provision of adult training and upskilling infrastructure.
In addition to the factors listed above, another inhibitor of digital uptake in universities is digital literacy. Academics and staff can be sceptical of using tools in which they lack confidence and may be reluctant to engage in digital spaces where they feel at a disadvantage to students who have grown up around technology. Ultimately, universities have the responsibility to embrace technology, particularly when teaching, to ensure students are getting the most from new technology.