Over 2,500 of the world’s most powerful people have talked about the risks and opportunities surrounding “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The biggest risk that has been pointed out time and time again when Business Insider spoke to the bosses of the largest corporations in the world is two pronged.
1. The tech revolution will lead to a net loss of over five million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020, as identified by WEF in its report “The Future of Jobs.”
2. Unskilled workers will most likely be affected by the job cull in favour of robots and automation but at the same time companies will struggle to meet the WEF estimation of the creation of 2.1 million new jobs, mainly in more specialised areas such as computing, maths, architecture, and engineering, because of the lack of digital skills. Adecco’s CEO told us about how 900,000 jobs in the EU might end up vacant due to a lack of digital skills while UBS said in a white paper that income inequality is likely to grow.
But when Jonas Prising, CEO and executive chairman of one of the world’s biggest HR consultancy firms Manpower, sat down with Business Insider on the sidelines at the WEF conference, he told us about a pretty awesome solution to what companies can do, without relying on governments to step in:
“Going forward, because we believe in the notion of learnability, companies should use the concept of getting more people into iterative training. We believe we have the winning formula. You make sure you [in your company] allow staff to go to work, then take time out for training, then allow them to go back into the company immediately after. You can do this a few times. Not only does this help with staff retention but it allows you to skill-up your workforce.”
Basically, Prising is saying that companies should continually find ways to skill up their workforce by letting them take time out to acquire digital skills and then return to work. Not only will this keep people in employment but it will also greatly benefit the corporations because their workforces will develop more modern and cutting edge skills.
On top of that, it will also “take the strain off” the education system, where traditionally people just go to school, college, then university and believe that that is the end of their education.
Manpower is very well placed to make this observation, after all the group is one of the largest HR consultancies in the world with a market capitalisation of $5.2 billion (£3.6 billion).
As Prising pointed out to us, Manpower is “not only observing the transformation of the workforce during ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are actively participating in it.”
But while the WEF is warning of the risks of job losses resulting from greater use of robots and automation, Prising is “optimistic” that the digital revolution will not kill off as many jobs as estimated — provided companies change the way they develop their workforce and stop thinking that skilling up or educating stops at university.
“It’s a dangerous prediction to make about what jobs are going to be destroyed because with technology changes it doesn’t necessarily mean it eliminates a job completely, it can enhance it. We just need to make sure we train men and women to gain those extra skills throughout their careers, not just when they first start their jobs.”