17 January 2017

CEOs have to take charge of reskilling their workforces: Accenture

Source: Accenture website. The top skills required to stay relevant at work in the next five years include technical skills, adaptability and problem-solving capabilities.
Source: Accenture website. The top skills required to stay relevant at work in the next five years include technical skills, adaptability and problem-solving capabilities.

A new report* by Accenture Strategy cautions that in a rapidly changing digital landscape, CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling their people to be relevant in the future and ready to adapt to change.

According to the report, Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce, CEOs must put their people first and at the centre of change to create the future workforce.

The stakes are high for businesses, workers and society as a whole. Development of human skills such as leadership, critical thinking and creative skills, as well as emotional intelligence, would reduce job losses due to total automation considerably. The survey of 10,527 working people in ten countries, including Australia, India, Japan and Turkey, coupled with Accenture Strategy modelling show that if the rate at which workers build relevant skills is doubled, the share of jobs at risk of total automation would be reduced.

“Paradoxically, the truly human skills, from leadership to creativity, will remain highly relevant and winning organisations will strike the right balance — leveraging the best of technology to elevate, not eliminate their people,” said Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Accenture. “Not only are workers optimistic, but they understand they must learn new skills. Digital can accelerate learning by embedding training seamlessly into daily work — so learning becomes a way of life — helping workers and organisations remain relevant.”

Fully 84% of workers surveyed are optimistic about the impact of digital on their job. More than two-thirds think that technologies such as robots, data analytics and artificial intelligence will help them be more efficient (74%), learn new skills (73%) and improve the quality of their work (66%).

Eighty-seven percent of these working people expect parts of their job to be automated in the next five years, ranging from 93% of Millennials to 79% of baby boomers. Of those who expect automation, 80% anticipate more opportunities than challenges in how automation will impact their work experiences in the next five years.

Additional Accenture research shows that artificial intelligence alone has the potential to double the annual economic growth rates and boost labour productivity by up to 40% by 2035 in the 12 developed countries examined.

Additionally, the values of today’s workforce will require leaders to respond with a different range of rewards, benefits and support. According to modelling undertaken by Accenture Strategy and Gallup, non-financial factors, such as well-being, engagement, quality of life and status are equal, if not more important to workers than income and benefits.

“Creating the future workforce now is the responsibility of every CEO. Those leaders who make their people a strategic business priority and understand the urgency of this challenge will be the ones that make the greatest gains in growth and innovation,” said Mark Knickrehm, Group Chief Executive, Accenture Strategy.

To help leaders navigate and shape the future workforce, Accenture Strategy has the following recommendations:

· Accelerate reskilling: From top to bottom, invest in technical and more human skills involving creativity and judgment, taking advantage of the fact that 85% of workers are ready to invest their free time in the next six months to learn new skills.

Scale reskilling by using digital technology. This can include wearable technologies, such as smart glasses that provide technical advice and information as workers carry out tasks. It can also include intelligent software to personalise training that offers recommendations to support an individual’s lifelong learning needs.

· Redesign work to unlock human potential: Co-create role-based, gig-like employment opportunities to satisfy workers’ demands for more varied work and flexible arrangements. Develop platforms through which a range of resources and services can be offered to employees and freelancers alike in order to create a compelling community that keeps top talent loyal.

· Strengthen the talent pipeline from its source: Address industry-wide skills shortages by supporting longer term, collective solutions. These include public private partnerships designed to create a broad adoption of skills training. Work with the education sector to design curricula that develop relevant skills at the beginning of the talent supply chain.

*Accenture combined quantitative and qualitative research techniques in order to analyse how responsive and responsible leadership could help create the future workforce. The research programme is built on three pillars of a survey, econometric modelling and an index, complemented by secondary research and interviews with experts from universities, startups, large corporations and government organisations.

The online survey was conducted in the US, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Italy, India, Japan and Turkey of 10,527 workers across skill levels and generations between November 26 and December 9, 2016.