Skillnet Report Identifies Future Skills Needs

04 Dec 2019 | 12.02 pm

Skillnet Report Identifies Future Skills Needs

Learning and development requires more investment 

04 Dec 2019 | 12.02 pm

Less than a third of businesses have confidence in their ability to find skilled workers and staff to meet their future skills needs, according to new research. 

Only 30% of organisations surveyed by Trainers’ Learning Skillnet and the Irish Institute of Training and Development were confident they are equipped to meet their future skills needs.

Authored by Professor David Collings and Dr John McMackin of DCU Business School, the research indicates that more investment is required in learning and development to help Irish businesses prepare for the future of work.

The report, Enabling the Workforce of the Future, highlights the challenges posed by new technologies to the skills base of the Irish workforce. It identifies where improvements in technology and connectivity facilitate more flexible work and a greater exchange of skills between organisations and individuals.

For 40% of those surveyed, preparing for the future is a high priority, but many professionals in the field felt underprepared for the technological forces and skills needs required to grasp the future of work.

Prof Collings said: “One key takeaway from our research is that many organisations are ill prepared for the future of work. A telling statistic is that only  one in three respondents were confident about their ability to meet the future skills needs of their organisations. This is a real concern, as many of the challenges of the future of work are already evident and it is not some distant scenario.

“However, this lack of preparedness is hardly surprising, given the considerable pressure organisations are under to meet current skills needs. Thus, finding a balance between meeting current needs while keeping a watchful eye on the future must be key priority for learning and development leaders.”

The report found that organisations that were more advanced in enabling the workforces of the future were proactive in engaging with the threats and opportunities resulting from advances in technology — specifically AI and robotics. 

They had a clear sense of the potential value of digitisation to their organisations and their strategy could be driven by a focus on sustainability, customer service or developing people capabilities. 

Tracey Donnery (pictured), executive director Skillnet Ireland, commented: “A key finding in the report is that the pace of change in work resulting from advances in AI, robotics and other technology changes is so pervasive that the future of work is already here. Organisations who fail to engage with these changes are likely to lose competitiveness very quickly.”

The report also examines trends in how today’s Learning and Development function itself is evolving in response to these changes in the world of work. The skills required by L&D professionals are changing, with an increased focus on data analytics, digital and online content development, as well as a greater focus on business and sectoral expertise. These competencies will play a key role in enabling L&D professionals examine the future skills requirements within their organisations.

The report authors recommend that businesses think proactively about the future skills required within their organisation. Their report provides a six step process to help businesses identify and respond to their future skills requirements.

This recommends that organisations assess the impact of automation and AI on their operations, conduct a ‘skills audit’ to identify any potential gap in skills, and forecast for the roles within their organisation which may be displaced or affected significantly in the future by emerging technology.

 

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