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Future-Proof Your Talent for the 4th Industrial Revolution

June 25, 2019

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The fourth industrial revolution is well and truly upon us. Cyber physical systems that integrate computers, networks, and machines are rapidly displacing electronic and IT systems, and this is massively disrupting almost every industry. Large scale change is needed in response, including an entire re-think of current systems. More than that, people need to improve their ability to adapt and collaborate. This response needs to happen now.

As Charles Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF) expressed it, “We have the chance to shape a future where the most powerful technologies contribute to more inclusive, fair, and prosperous communities.” But where does talent management come into this?

New technologies

The Future of Jobs survey conducted by the WEF in 2018 showed that 85% of companies are likely to adopt big data analytics by 2022, while 58% of companies expect to be using augmented and virtual reality. Equally, companies are anticipating a significant increase in the number of hours machines work, compared to the hours humans work, within the next three years.

This is having an impact on the supply side, where technology is driving new ways to meet consumer needs. Whether it’s Artificial Intelligence predicting products you might want to buy or drones delivering goods direct to your door, on the demand side, constantly changing consumer behaviour patterns mean that organisations must adapt to survive.

Far reaching implications

This exponential and unprecedented rate of change brings enormous opportunities, but it also comes with risks. The response needs to be integrated and comprehensive, and to achieve this, companies need top talent to guide them into the future.

Businesses must organise, or where necessary re-organise, for speed, agility and adaptability. This will involve a change from rigid hierarchical structures to flexible networks, as well as a shift in the skills required for effective leadership.

Organisational design

In the past 50 years, the skills needed in several professions have changed. In the medical industry, for example, new technologies such as robots and online diagnostic tools allow doctors to partner with technology to improve patient outcomes. Journalists are now far more likely to be writing content for an online audience than a printed broadsheet, and the role of social media manager didn’t exist even ten years ago.

We don’t yet know what the jobs of the future will be. Deloitte anticipates that two thirds of today’s five year olds will find themselves in jobs that don’t exist today, so it’s concerning that we already have a skills gap, with employers finding it hard to fill vacancies because applicants lack the right abilities.

Integrated approach

Recruitment alone will not meet the challenge – this is a wider organisational issue – but attraction and selection are a good place to start. Good candidates are in short supply, so your organisation needs to focus on attracting the best. Technology is an important way to achieve this, giving you the tools you need to better understand behaviours, drivers, and motivations, as well as your organisational needs. In addition to attracting the best people, technology can provide the right development opportunities to retain them and create the correct mix of skills for your business.

A recent survey from job board CV-Library showed that the top skills that employers are looking for in candidates today is the ability to adapt (71.5%) and resilience (57.5%). The willingness to upskill in response to changing needs was also important (39.7%). This reflects an increased demand for soft skills such as communication and relationship building, as well as curiosity, innovation, and a willingness to take risks. Employers want agile teams that are committed to lifelong learning and development.

Employee life cycle

These requirements need to be recognised and met at every talent management touch point. Starting from your employer brand and attracting candidates through recruitment, onboarding, development, and onto engagement and retention.

A wide variety of methods can be used to attract talent, including video, social media, and face to face events. Technology is available that allows organisations to select for learning agility and potential, rather than static systems that merely measure past achievements. Both touchpoints allow you to showcase technology and innovation, demonstrating a positive culture to potential candidates, not only within your organisation but also in how you recruit. Read more on how to become an employer of choice by improving your employer brand.

Ongoing process

Don’t drop the focus on innovation and technology when your new hires are in place. If you want to keep them, you need to involve technology in development. Empower your people to identify how, what and why they want to develop. This might include soft skills or Emotional Intelligence.

The future is unknown, but one of the few things we can be sure of is that change is the new normal. Organisations need to keep up with the pace of change by attracting, recruiting, and developing the best people. And these people need to be empowered to develop themselves and seek out the opportunities presented by new technology wherever they can. 

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John Cooper John Cooper joined PSI at the end of 2018, through the acquisition of JCA Global, the leading experts in Emotional Intelligence (EI) for business. John was the co-founder of JCA Global and CEO for over 15 years, helping global brands such as Starbucks, the NHS and the BBC develop emotional intelligence within their businesses to improve business performance and employee productivity.