People professionals must respond to automation

11 Jul 2019 By Maggie Baska

Businesses need to take an 'active role' in supporting existing workforces, a report has found

As technology shifts the balance between tasks performed by humans and machines, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has found the window for proactive management of this change is closing fast. 

The WEF warned businesses must proactively implement comprehensive workforce strategies to meet these new challenges.

The Future of Jobs 2018 report found half (50 per cent) of the 313 companies who responded expected that automation would lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. 

But two in five (38 per cent) expected to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter (28 per cent) said automation would lead to the creation of new roles. 

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, said reskilling and upskilling humans was a “key challenge of our time”.

“It’s critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling and that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning,” Schwab said.

The WEF estimated that the increased implementation of machines and algorithms at work could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that would be displaced between now and 2022. 

The WEF also found there would be emerging skills needed to work harmoniously alongside robot counterparts, including intrinsically human skills like emotional intelligence and creativity. 

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