Technology Change

Disruptive Technology, Automation Force Change in Workers’ Skills: McKinsey

Changes in global demand for different types of workforce skills, caused by the rapid growth of technology, will require business organizations to provide training programs to employees.

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), a think-tank of consulting firm McKinsey & Co., projects that by 2030, demand for technological expertise will increase by even 55 percent, while for social and emotional skills, needed in leadership and management, will rise by 24 percent. Demand for higher cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking, decision making and complex information processing will rise moderately, by 8 percent.

According to McKinsey, some 800 million workers worldwide, or one-fifth of the global workforce, will lose their jobs to artificial intelligence.

“Preparing for and managing the growing shifts in demand for different types of workforce skills represents one of the biggest challenges of the next decade. Our research highlights the big increase in demand for tech and social skills that are currently in quite short supply and an oversupply of skills that may be less needed in the future, including physical and manual skills,” MGI director Jacques Bughin said in a statement last week.

Demand for basic cognitive skills, like simple data input and processing, will drop by 15 percent, while demand for manual and physical skills will decrease by 14 percent.

According to a similar study by the Asian Development Bank, though technology has changed certain job tasks, it actually contributes to higher and faster economic growth, as automation will create higher demand for more goods and services, which in turn will create more new jobs to replace obsolete ones.

Using data from 12 countries in Asia from 2005 to 2015, ADB estimated that 66 percent of jobs in the region, or 101 million jobs per year, were lost to automation. Among the most vulnerable are those in the manufacturing industry.

After analyzing data in 12 Asian countries from 2005 to 2015, ADB estimated that 66 percent of jobs in the region, or 101 million jobs per year, had lost to automation. However, there was an 88 percent increase in employment over the period, or 134 million jobs per year, well offsetting the jobs lost to automation.

The MGI and ADB reports are unanimous in their conclusions that working culture, training programs and organization structures must be redesigned.

“Companies will take the lead in building their own future workforce, but all stakeholders — educators, foundations, industry associations, organized labor and of course policy makers — will have a role to play,” MGI partner Susan Lund said in the statement.

“In our research, we identify a range of approaches and discuss the experience of some companies which are already engaging in large-scale workforce retraining,” she said.

MGI suggests that companies and business leaders will have to decide in the coming years whether to pursue training using in-house resources or to partner with educational institutions that will provide external learning opportunities for employees.


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