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Reskilling Employees to Keep Up With Automation Technology

By Meeta Ramnani - May 16, 2019 4 Mins Read

Reskilling Employees to Keep Up With Automation Technology

As the categories of job change due to automation, skills for futuristic technologies will be in huge demand. With a scarcity of this talent, reskilling could be the way out to empower resources

The rapid transformation of businesses is constantly changing the way employees work. Automation technology has brought about what could be termed the fourth industrial revolution – leading to more machines as resources than ever before.

As companies adopt an increasing amount of automatized platforms, a significant number of employees fear that they will lose their jobs. However, experts suggest that this could be avoided if companies are successful in reskilling their employees to meet the job requirements of the future.

According to McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) report, ‘Skill Shift: Automation and the future of the workforce,’ the demand for technology skills is expected to rise by 55% by 2030. The report also estimates that 14% of the global workforce will need to switch their occupational categories by 2030 due to automation and other digital changes.

For 66% of companies, ‘addressing potential skills gaps related to automation/digitization’ was one of the top 10 priorities. Experts believe that the future will see repetitive transactional work being automated and even decision making roles can be taken care of by decision algorithms, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

While it may seem easier for companies to hire skilled workers who can take over the technical roles created by the automated workplace, but there are several reasons why this model is not being followed. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost per hire in the US is at $4,129. Also, companies are willing to invest in their loyal employees to upskill them.

A rise in demand for workers skilled for higher technical roles that are in line with automated processes has also created a scarcity of the talent. Some companies also use a mixed approach of up-skilling their loyal, dedicated people and constantly recruiting from high school and adult programs.

While reskilling currently sounds a good option but is not an easy task. As companies go global, many facilities are open 24/7, and bringing workers off the floor is difficult. Training also requires funding and appropriate trainers. Even if enterprises manage to get time and money for workers, it is to be considered, that it is not a one-time thing. Training has to be continuous, and programs have to be created to foster lifelong learning for employees.

To take up reskilling programs, big employers are offering in-house classes or reimbursing the tuition fees to the employees for taking up courses for specific skills, degrees, and certificates. Companies are also partnering with vocational schools and community colleges and creating programs that help with internships. For example, the foundational electrical system course generally goes on for 40-60 hours, where workers learn about motor controls that communicate with the programmable logic controller (PLC).

Automation also creates many jobs. Facilities like that of Walmart that are fully automated, but the floor still needs technicians to know how to fix the robots right away so that there is no loss of time in the warehouses.

Experts believe that with automation, there is a positive future with technologies, where factories are driving significant performance improvement and are attracting a higher volume of work. With this, the hiring is also increasing at the factories.

Some enterprises are hiring younger people as they are more comfortable with newer technologies, while the older workforce is coaching them on managing the production lines, in every sector. Most of the companies will soon see a blend of generations and capabilities in a way that is profoundly empowering.

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Meeta Ramnani

Meeta Ramnani is the Senior Editor with OnDot Media. She writes about technologies including AI, IoT, Cloud, Big Data, Blockchain across various industries with a focus on Digital Transformation. An avid bike rider, Meeta, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, where her specialization was Business Journalism. She carries four years of experience in mainstream print media where she worked as a correspondent with The Times Group and Sakal Media Group in Pune.

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