Francesca Postolache, ABSL VP & Partener PwC România for www.wall-street.ro
Companies and especially employees are afraid of new technologies: How will they be able to compete with robots?
“Disruption” is an increasingly common term used in organizations’ strategies, and the first thing it is associated with is technology: artificial intelligence or robots. However, the biggest challenge is not the technology itself, but the development of a skilled, flexible and strategically thinking workforce. As they develop, companies will need employees who can work with artificial intelligence, analyze data, discover and apply on-the-go solutions and easily adapt to new roles. At the same time, they should be up to date with the latest technologies/software applications and proactively use online learning platforms.
Indeed, PwC studies globally show that new technologies will affect, annually, between 5 and 10% of the jobs of each organization and discrepancies will emerge between existing skills and those required in the new digital environment. Many of these skills are missing, which proves to be an impediment to success, and the biggest impact of this shortfall on business is the inability to innovate effectively. In this fast pace of change, competition for the right talents is fierce. Today, “talent” does not mean the same thing as it did ten years ago, and in another ten years it will probably have a different meaning than it has now. Many of the roles, skills, and names of tomorrow’s jobs are unknown to us today, and we all wonder how organizations can prepare for this unpredictable future? The most recent PwC CEO Survey 2019 survey found that more than half of CEOs said they are exploring how machines and people can work together, and 39% consider the effect of automation on the workforce. Also, almost one third of the CEOs in Romania believe that technological advances have had a significant impact on the business environment over the last five years and are expected to accelerate the trend.
Many business leaders are aware of the major deficit of the labor market, and upskilling is part of the answer. Upskilling programs that are no longer just simple courses of learning or improvement. Organizations need to be creative in rethinking jobs and workflow, finding and recruiting people, including through academic partnerships, start-ups or freelancing, to provide employees with learning and development programs and to listen to their concerns.
According to the Upskilling Hopes & Fears study, it is necessary to automate which could endanger workplaces, most of the fertilizers in proportion, 61%, consider that there is a technological impact on their daily work which is positive, and 77% we are willing to allow ourselves to prepare for other professions, and employing actions should help them acquire new digital skills. In the case of Romania, the transformation is slower than in other countries, however the companies need a strategy for digitization and upskilling applied early to ensure their competitiveness, considering that, in the next ten years, 600,000 jobs from Romania will be affected by the digital transformation generated by the new technologies.
According to PwC’s Workforce Disruption Index, 325,000 new jobs will be created, while 275,000 workers need to upgrade their digital skills. For an employee whose job is threatened by automation, the implementation of new technologies can be worrying, but if a company has a training program, it can adapt and learn other roles with higher added value. In this context, PwC recently launched a $3 billion global upskilling program to improve the digital skills of its 276,000 employees, as well as to develop new technologies to support companies and communities in the digital transformation process. The program will also have implications in Romania.
Identifying the right mix between people’s creative and physical abilities and the efficiency of digital solutions will lead to an exponential increase in productivity, the PwC report “Delivering Workforce Productivity Growth” shows. As automation takes over repetitive activities, the value people bring will increasingly be based on soft skills, being able to respond to unusual situations with creativity, innovation and flexibility. Increasing productivity will have an immediate effect on the economy and society, by reducing costs and improving product quality. In order to remain competitive, companies will have to ultimately deliver most of these benefits to consumers through lower prices. Thus, households will be able to buy more, leading to additional demand for products to which companies will respond by producing more and employing more people. Therefore, in addition to the efficiency of the processes, AI and related technologies will stimulate economic growth and create many additional job opportunities, as it happen with every technological leap in the industrial revolution.