Noting that only 9% of chief human resources officers (CHROs) agree that their organization is prepared for the future of work, technology consultancy Gartner, Inc. advised senior HR leaders to develop strategies to help transition their company to a future in which the workplace is shaped by artificial intelligence and other digital technologies.
In a report released on October 28, researchers identified five areas that deserve deeper consideration by HR leaders as work continues to evolve. First, they noted, data is increasingly used to make work-related decisions in talent acquisition and management, and even workplace design. The report cited recent research indicating that 75% of organizations are dramatically increasing their investment in analytics. The authors cautioned that this increasing focus on talent analytics is forcing senior HR leaders to consider how to collect and use data in an ethical way.
Second, researchers observed that 73% of CHROs surveyed say building critical skills and competencies is a top priority. The report warned, however, that the skill sets needed are changing significantly, as in nearly two-thirds of recent job postings, more than 25% of the required skills had changed since just five years ago. To provide employees with the learning opportunities they will need to develop critical skills, researchers said, HR should reimagine skills development to leverage new technology while still providing employees opportunities to develop.
Third, the report recommended that companies develop an internal transparency strategy. The study cited survey data showing that although nearly 60% of candidates believe they are well-informed about the companies they are applying to, 71% said they think employers should increase transparency. To meet employees’ growing expectations for information transparency, researchers advised employers to train managers on how to operate in a more transparent environment in which employees are given access to more information.
Fourth, the study noted that research shows that 69% of a manager’s current duties—including approving expenses, reviewing a project’s status, and onboarding new employees—will be automated by 2024. The study recommended that HR leaders focus on determining which management tasks should be automated, establishing new expectations for managers, and designing career paths for growth with fewer management opportunities.
Finally, the report observed that AI deployment is already widespread, with 70% of CHROs surveyed reporting that they expect investments in AI to replace jobs in their organization within the next three years. However, while acknowledging that jobs that will be lost as new technology is implemented, researchers pointed out that technology will enable access for new talent pools, and advised companies to implement technology that can create an enabling work environment for new entrants to the labor market.
New Systems Approach Is Needed To Promote Workforce Development
While some U.S. workers are finding that their knowledge and skills are no longer up-to-date or in demand on the labor market, many employers are struggling to recruit workers who have the skills and knowledge required to keep their company competitive over the long term, according to a study published by the public policy research organization the RAND Corporation.
The report, “A System That Works: How a New Workforce Development and Employment System Can Meet the Needs of Employers, Workers, and Other Stakeholders,” was published on September 19. The authors observed that as the American workplace changes in response to new technologies, globalization, and demographic shifts, employers still need workers with industry-specific knowledge, but they also increasingly value skills like effective communication and critical thinking.
Applying a systems approach to reconceiving the current workforce development and employment system, researchers attempted to identify the ways in which the system is failing both workers and employers, and to craft a plan for how educators, employers, workers, and other stakeholders can rebuild the current system to bring about the necessary changes.
First, the authors observed, the U.S. workforce development and employment system has changed little since the mid-20th century, and underperforms in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment in which lifelong learning has become essential. They pointed out that as automation and shifting consumer demands have rendered some of the skills individuals learned years ago obsolete, many workers have an immediate need to acquire new knowledge and skills. In particular, researchers noted, there is greater demand for workers who can master information synthesis, creativity, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork; even as there is still substantial demand for skilled workers in positions that do not require post-secondary degrees or specific credentials.
The study also warned, however, that there is currently no well-defined path for workers to get the training they need. According to researchers, post-secondary training and education institutions generally offer the same structure of credentials and degrees they did years ago, and may be constrained in their ability to respond to changing job requirements by a lack of funding. Meanwhile, they added, in the workplace, employers are often willing to pay for additional training only for their more educated employees.
To tackle these challenges, the study’s authors called for the creation of a workforce development and employment system that provides multiple on-ramps for transitioning workers to access training and employment opportunities, while matching workers and jobs. To build this system, the authors recommended developing data, metrics, and tools to monitor the current system in order to identify where it is failing, and where new approaches are warranted. They also suggested using gaming, competitions, and other strategies to measure the impact of policy interventions, and to create an open clearinghouse that collects and shares information about promising approaches.