Advancements in A.I Mean 120 Million Workers Need to be Retrained: IBM

Tech-giant IBM says that as many as 120 million workers will need to be retrained due to the changes that artificial intelligence and robotics will bring to the workplace as they become more advanced.

Of that 120-million figure worldwide, around 12 million are U.S. workers, while a staggering 50.3 million are Chinese workers that will require retraining within the next three years, according to IBM. Brazil takes third place with 7.2 million, Japan with 4.9 million and Germany with 2.9 million.

In addition to the revelation of the sheer amount of retraining needed, IBM's report also sheds light on just how unprepared leaders of these organisations are in the face of these changes.

Less than half of the CEOs that took part in IBM’s survey say that they currently have time and resources available to them to meet the requirements of closing the skills gap.

Leaders of organisations worldwide are set to be impacted by this, IBM warns, calling it one of the greatest threats to organisations today.

“Reskilling for technical skills is typically driven by structured education with a defined objective with a clear start and end,” says Amy Wright, managing partner for IBM Talent & Transformation. “Building behavioral skills takes more time and is more complex,” she continued to explain.

“Organizations are facing mountains concerns over the widening skills gap and tightened labor markets with the potential to impact their futures as well as worldwide economies,”- Amy Wright, IBM.

“Organizations are facing mountains concerns over the widening skills gap and tightened labor markets with the potential to impact their futures as well as worldwide economies,” Wright says. “Yet, while executives recognize [the] severity of the problem, half of those surveyed admit that they do not have any skills development strategies in place to address their largest gaps.”

Shelly Hagan says that “behavioral skills, such as the ability to work well on a team, communication, creativity and empathy are best developed through experience rather than structured learning programs like a webinar.” IBM’s survey notes that employers are now placing an emphasis on communicative skills, creativity and empathy from their employees, dismissing the notion that they need to be experienced coders or have high-level technical skills.

IBM also noted that the time taken to train staff in 2019 is also longer than in previous years; workers now need an estimated 36 days of training to close a skills gap, compared to just three days in 2014.

Johnny Albertsen, CEO of Rosborg Food Holding, who has rolled out the use of robotics in his operations in the US told Bloomberg that “the technology is going so fast now, that in two or three years you can make the robot do almost anything.” However, as Shelly Hagan explains, “advancements are expected to not only displace jobs but also create new ones. The challenge will be upskilling workers to fill the new jobs.”

IBM proposes a few strategies in this regard, stating that organisations should be looking to close the skills gap through a mix of hiring talent from other countries, from outside the organisation and moving employees across divisions.

Somewhat ironically, organisations should also utilise artificial intelligence, according to IBM to identify gaps in their operations and discover areas in which the organisation is lacking adequate skills and training. From here, the organisation should push for a culture that encourages continuous learning and training for its staff to consistently close the skills and training gap in their organisation.

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