To say what we are all going through right now is a change, maybe quite an understatement. Everywhere around us, the dreaded buzzword of digital transformation (DX) is cropping up. As global supply chains are disrupted, with social distancing rules and remote working becoming the new normal, what’s next? How are companies going to cope with this new reality? An article from McKinsey and Company says reskilling is paramount in terms of reimagining the global workforce.
Even before this pandemic occurred, things were changing in the way companies were operating as a result of increased DX initiatives. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.
Most would think the challenges are focused on working remotely, with increased levels of automation, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, big data and cloud computing. But there is more to it. Companies need to craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities. This covers social and emotional skills, adaptability and resilience. So, in other words, companies need to reinvest in learning budgets and commit to the art of retraining their workforce. The learning landscape has changed in ways that will foster teaching new skills to employees, wherever they may be.
A recent Gartner CFO survey revealed that almost three in four CFOs plan to “shift at least 5 percent of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19.” There is a huge learning curve as managers figure out how to lead their teams virtually as they build social capital and how to maintain cohesion. In the field of healthcare for example, the UK has almost all assessments by phone and only about 7 percent proceeding to face-to-face consultations. A pattern is emerging for globally tech-based medical care. Digital tools, new products and services are now becoming paramount.
E-commerce is on the up. Early indications from China show that new customers—specifically, people aged 36 and older and residents of smaller, less prosperous cities—have begun to shop online in greater numbers through the crisis. In Europe, 13 percent of consumers said in early April that they were planning to browse the sites of online e-retailers for the first time. In the United States, the retail and hospitality-and-food-service sectors account for 42 percent of vulnerable jobs, while some sectors, such as groceries, are hiring two million to three million additional workers.
It’s all about building up critical workforce capabilities. This pandemic has been a catalyst in terms of quickening the dynamics of workplaces and how it will respond to the influx of automation, AI, big data and cloud computing. Marketplaces are going to start shifting, and organizational roles are going to become quite multi-faceted. An employee’s digital expertise will now have to encompass cognitive, emotional and degrees of agility as well. To be resilient, workforces have to be robust too. The muscle of any organization will depend on just how paramount retraining is viewed in the bigger scheme of things.
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