Reskilling 1 billion and preparing to work with AI were some of the key points of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

Reskilling 1 billion and preparing to work with AI were some of the key points of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.

Here are four hot topics related to the Future of Work, with the Adecco Group actively contributing to the debate.

Reskilling for the Fourth Industrial age

By 2030, 1 billion people will need to be reskilled otherwise G20 countries could be putting $11.5 trillion of potential GDP growth at risk.

Denmark’s Minister for Employment, Peter Hummelgaard said the responsibility for upskilling in his country lands on workers, employers, and government. But despite Denmark’s significant investment in reskilling their workforce, the major challenge is convincing people to make use of the opportunities.

France’s Minister of Labour, Muriel Pénicaud, warned that training should be made available to all otherwise “the risk is that people will be left behind.”

Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labour of France – World Economic Forum/Walter Duerst

To fill this talent gap, the World Economic Forum launched Reskilling Revolution an initiative that the Managing Director of the Forum, said will build social cohesion, and ensure people have pathways to social mobility.

Ivanka Trump, Assistant and Adviser to the US President, spoke about the importance of listening to industry when trying to tackle the skills gaps.

“Industry knows what jobs they are going to be creating and what jobs they are going to be displacing. They know far ahead of the government which investments they are making in productivity, which will cause a ripple effect within their workforce.”

The best countries and cities for talent

Our Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020, launched in partnership with Insead and Google, ranked cities and countries across the world on their ability to grow, attract and retain talent. As well as showing which countries had strong, competitive workforce, the Index also judged which ones were AI ready.

Switzerland came top for the seventh year in a row with emerging markets lagging far behind the talent-rich nations.

However, the gap can be bridged with the right set of policies. These are the countries that are in a good position to benefit from the Age of AI.

Training is an investment, not a cost

Companies often say talent is their most important asset, and yet human capital is not reflected in financial statements.

Our CEO, Alain Dehaze, argued that the rules should be changed. This will encourage more investment in training and help change the mindset – to view training as an investment rather than simply a cost to the business.

Speaking at Davos he suggested that “we should consider the spend [on training] as an asset and amortize it.” Dehaze also championed a new form of Individualised Training Account, where workers acquire credits to fund training over the course of their careers. As rapid technological change demands workforce reskilling and upskilling, he concludes, “the costs of not investing in training will be much bigger than doing it.”

What will it be like to go to work in the future?

Will we soon be working with robots? Henny Admoni, a leading roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University, reassured delegates that while robots are certainly useful for some tasks, they cannot match the empathy and dexterity of humans.

“We should let people do what we’re good at – and let robots do what they’re good at,” she suggests.

Robots at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 24 January – World Economic Forum/Faruk Pinjo

If robots aren’t replacing humans, then computer programmes might. The evolution of machines and algorithms is expected to create an estimated 133 million new positions which will require a whole new skillset.

Yuval Noah Harari, speaking at the session named Humans behind Machines, predicted stressful times ahead for employees. He said the biggest problem will be retraining talent. People will have to learn to reinvent themselves time and time again which could have a big impact on mental health.

Finally, if the discussions this week at Davos suggested anything, it’s that leaders in years to come will be working in a very different world. Our Alain Dehaze joined 8 other peers in an online event and were quizzed by people at the very start of their careers. They debated questions such as ‘What new values can our generation bring to the table? And ‘What will help young people succeed?


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