If the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence by the general public in 2023 has taught us anything, it’s that much of the world is growing more comfortable with this technology and businesses will soon follow in individuals’ footsteps. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 published earlier this year reinforces the trend: More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt big data, cloud computing, and AI in the next five years.
At the same time, the report notes that 44% of workers’ core skills are expected to change in the next five years. Not only will workplaces need to equip their employees with the necessary skills to use the technologies being implemented, but they will also need to make sure employees have the skills to fill the roles that artificial intelligence cannot. Here’s how companies can prepare their workers for shifting demands in the next five years.
Gauge familiarity with new technologies
Before implementing AI solutions, employers need to gauge what familiarity and comfort existing employees have with emerging technologies. According to an employability report by Cengage Group, AI has already prompted 59% of employers to prioritize different skills when hiring. This puts existing employees on the back foot in technology-compatible skill sets. Organizations will need to identify their current workforce’s base level of familiarity with certain technologies and build from there with clear growth and development tracks. This will help ensure employees aren’t being bombarded by dozens of different workshops, courses, or routes to develop their skills. Instead, they can focus on growing specific areas to perform and excel in their existing roles.
Grow employees’ in-demand skills and competencies directly
The World Economic Forum report found that “six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today.” Create those opportunities. After identifying what skills your employees need, give them the tools to acquire those skills directly through the workplace. This helps to streamline and ease training barriers for workers while also giving companies the ability to design the training for exactly what skills they need.
This can be as simple as a one-time online training course or as in-depth as a full certification program that provides credentials for future employment opportunities. Regardless, the program should measurably improve learner outcomes by providing a clear set of goals and guideposts to reach them.
Training programs are not limited to hands-on equipment training or technology skills. The World Economic Forum identified the following as the top four priorities for skills training:
- Analytical thinking
- Creative thinking
- AI and big data skills
- Leadership and social influence skills
Soft skills are more essential than ever, even as automated technology advances. It’s always been critical for employees to work interpersonally, and that doesn’t change when more hardware or software is integrated into their workflows.
Expand industry-relevant training and partnerships with educational institutions
When first joining the workforce, incoming employees need to be able to clearly illustrate to potential employers the relevant training they have. For those who have been participating in the workforce for decades, that training could be outdated.
There are a number of educational programs that require and facilitate internships, externships, apprenticeships and real-world projects to help students expand their knowledge outside the classroom before fully stepping into the workforce. Why not give your employees the opportunity to step back into the classroom to update their skills in a structured environment? If your organization facilitates student-readiness programs with local career centers, community colleges or universities, work together to build continuing education programs for your current workforce to ensure everyone from new hires to tenured veterans is developing relevant skills for years to come.
Today’s work is fundamentally changing through automation and artificial intelligence. Investing in your employees to bring their skills up to meet today’s challenges will pay dividends and set your company and employees up for success. As we look to the future of work, it’s unclear what technologies will grow and which will fade with time, but your workforce will be well-poised to adapt no matter what comes down the pike.