Why Reskilling Might be the Solution to Avoiding Job Losses from Automation and Robots

The Gloom and Doom over Job Losses and How Reskilling can Help

It has now become routine to read about how automation would result in widespread job losses and how robots would soon replace factory workers, drivers, and even white collar professionals as the Age of Machines arrives.

Indeed, the negative reports that regularly appear in the media paint a very grim view of the future where humans are no longer needed in the workforce and all work is done by Artificially Intelligent robots and machines.

While it is easy to give into the pessimism and throw up one’s hands in despair, the fact remains that the problem of job losses is engaging industry leaders and intellectuals as much as it is worrying workers and professionals.

Indeed, this is the reason why the organizers of the World Economic Forum, which is responsible for hosting the annual gathering of the business and political elites from across the world in Davos every year, has come out with a report detailing how certain measures such as Reskilling can help workers and professionals stay competitive in the Digital Economy of the future.

What is Reskilling and what needs to be done to actualize it in Practice?

So, what exactly is Reskilling and how does it help, and what can the different stakeholders do to ensure that there are no widespread job losses due to automation?

To start with, Reskilling simply is the Retraining of workers and professionals to help them acquire higher value adding and complementary and supplementary skills as well as sharpen their soft skills so that they can find avenues for work if their jobs are automated.

In other words, if your job is at risk of being automated, the best thing that you can do is to acquire newer skills and enhance your skills so that you remain competitive. While on the face of it, this looks easy and simple to accomplish, the reality is that it takes much effort and determination from all stakeholders to actualize this in practice.

Indeed, this is the reason why last year’s Davos conference focused exclusively on the problems and prospects of the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution and deliberated on ways and means to avoid the negative consequences of the same.

Thus, one of the topics discussed was on how to retrain and reskill the workers to meet the challenges of the future. As part of the deliberations, a report was prepared that identified some of the practicable and implementable solutions that can be adopted.

Reskilling and the Role of Stakeholders

Reskilling requires a lot of commitment from both workers and employers and especially the latter as they need to invest in retraining the former and migrate them to higher value adding skills. Indeed, the WEF clearly states that both industry and government have to come together if Reskilling of the workforce has to be successful.

Moreover, the key to success of this initiative is to identify which skills would be needed in the future.

Apart from this, business leaders would have to place people before profits and be willing to let go of some revenues and at the same time, make investments in building human capital rather than physical capital and machines alone.

Similarly, governments would have to subsidize the efforts at Reskilling and civil society groups and other stakeholders have to pitch in and create support systems that would help workers in devoting time to retraining and Reskilling themselves.

Thus, there is a need for systemic initiatives and solutions to meet the challenges of the Machine Age and all stakeholders must come together as otherwise widespread job losses can lead to social unrest.

How Reskilling Works

The specific ways in which such a situation can be ameliorated in other parts of the world is through workers enrolling for training and development programs sponsored either by their employers or governmental agencies and which are conducted by external trainers who are adept at both identifying the skills required for the Machine Age and who have the necessary expertise to do so.

In addition, online learning and eLearning sites such as ManagementStudyGuide.com (this site on which you are reading the article) can partner with corporates and governmental agencies to offer courses and workshops on the skills that would be in demand in the future.

Apart from this, there needs to be an effort on part of the workers and professionals to invest time and resources on retraining and Reskilling themselves instead of sitting and moping over loss of jobs and occupations.

More importantly, corporates must recognize the importance of soft skills that would command a premium in the Digital Economy. Above all, it is better to Catch Them Young or in other words, train students’ right from the High School days on skills that are needed for the future.

Conclusion

As can be seen from the discussion so far, there needs to be a comprehensive approach to Reskilling and Retraining without which a sense of atrophy and apathy has now become the norm in some the erstwhile Manufacturing hubs in the United States and which was in some ways contributed to the success of President Trump in the election of 2016.

Indeed, if other Western countries and in particular, India, have to avoid such a situation, it is better to start the efforts now rather than later so that they have a head start in terms of meeting the challenges of automation and robotics.

To conclude, the world is on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which would be as disruptive as the previous transformations were and hence, it makes sense to learn from the past and apply those lessons in the present to actualize a prosperous future for all, and not only to a few.

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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


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