Article: Closing the skills gap in the AI era: A global imperative


Closing the skills gap in the AI era: A global imperative

Strategies to reskill the tech industry in the AI era and bridge the digital skills gap for a more productive future of work.
Closing the skills gap in the AI era: A global imperative

AI is now the most omnipresent technology. Every tech company today wants to be recognised as an AI leader, investing in and integrating their current solutions with AI technologies. However, this large-scale demand for AI infusion into tech solutions is also baring the tech talent gap in the industry. 

As technologies like generative AI and automation reshape work environments positively, the human workforce needs to adapt and align with these transformations to retain their significance in the digital economy. Projections on a global scale indicate that by 2030, more than 85 million job positions will remain vacant due to a shortage of skilled individuals. Also, the rise of the Automation Economy, propelled by concerns about productivity, is redefining how organisations invest in their capabilities. To counter this, organisations must place great emphasis on implementing a robust talent strategy aimed at educating, training, and upskilling their workforce.

Building a ‘future of work’ that works 

As this productivity revolution drives the reliance on automation and AI, the urgent demand for digital skills is soaring, but only 2.5% of India's engineers possess AI expertise. This is a global issue, with over half of the world's IT workers needing reskilling, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The potential gains are immense; WEF's Future of Jobs report predicts that by 2025, humans and machines will share equal workloads.

Reskilling demands a shift in mindset towards a utopian work model where human qualities like creativity and empathy are valued, while digital workers handle routine tasks. This isn't just a dream; many organisations are already adopting this approach.

Intelligent automation, combining robotic process automation (RPA) and AI, is driving innovation across industries. All employees must prepare for the future of work as industries evolve. Consider Merck Life Sciences, employing over 60,000 individuals across 60+ countries, including India, using RPA and AI. These automations reduce errors, speed up regulatory processes, and enhance sales activities, ultimately boosting revenue and performance.

Putting everyone to work on reskilling

One of the big challenges for leaders, both in the world and in business, is the need for scaling up. For instance, in India, a recent report by TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship revealed that 52% of Indian employees must improve their digital skills within the next two years. To tackle this reskilling challenge on a large scale, we require a combined effort from the government, education, and private sector. This can be achieved through the following ways:

Make learning achievable: Instead of diving into the deeply technical aspects of AI, companies can begin by introducing the workforce to tools that require no-code or low-code experience Further, citizen development programs can be implemented. These programs encourage employees to be innovative problem solvers and foster a sense of ownership as they witness the direct impact of their work on business outcomes using no-code/low-code tools. These programs allow them to savour initial automation successes almost immediately and to envision greater possibilities for bots to help them in the future. 

Take advantage of existing partnerships: Companies should leverage the knowledge of their existing technology partners to quickly roll out skilling programs. The National Health Service in the UK, for example, was able to offer its 1.7 million employees automation training via the help of its technology partner.

Extend this focus into social and community impact: Social inequalities and skills gaps are challenges that impact everyone, either directly or indirectly. Many organisations already have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs in place. By including training and mentoring for disadvantaged communities in these initiatives, we can create a significant positive impact on skill development across society. For instance, Rural Shores, which is training rural youth in India to access economic opportunities generated by tech jobs, fostering both personal growth and community development.

The world goes through a period of re-adjustment during every technological revolution. With this current productivity revolution and the clear rise of the Automation Economy, we need to push for reskilling to ensure that millions of people find or retain meaningful and gainful employment, and we need to work together toward this momentous and fulfilling task.

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Topics: Technology, Skilling, #SkillUp, #Artificial Intelligence

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