Study finds lack of HR planning in workforce upskilling

A new report highlights the need for businesses to plan and invest in human skills to adapt to future automation whilst another indicates automation could fill a Brexit skills shortage.

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Skills for the future

Businesses across the globe must focus more - and invest more - on humans' skills of creativity, leadership and adaptability to better prepare for the future, according to a major survey by PwC.The company surveyed 1,246 business and HR leaders in 79 countries and found that 87 per cent believed human skills were critical for future development, but only 33 per cent had talent practices capable of driving these skills. A similar percentage use data analytics to predict and monitor skills gaps in the workforce.The PwC report, 'Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workforce Today', said that although HR professionals and business leaders understood the need to reskill workforces at a time of increasing automation of repetitive tasks, workers would lose confidence in an organisation if leaders were unclear about their vision and strategy.A separate survey by PwC of 2,000 employees in the UK found that only 41 per cent believed their employers offered them the chance to acquire the skills they needed for the future.Alastair Woods, partner at PwC, said: “HR departments must lead the way in growing and building the capabilities the workforce of tomorrow will require. The impact of automation and robotics over the course of the next decade will mean some tasks disappear, but new activities will emerge that rely on uniquely human skills like judgement, empathy, innovation.

Identifying the skills-investment gap

“To prepare for this change HR teams must develop a thorough understanding of future needs and put in place the learning and development programmes and other tools like performance management to help and underpin this transition.”Based on the percentage of organisations who said human capabilities were important but were not taking action to address the subject, PwC identified 10 areas where organisations were most at risk of jeopardising their future success.The most 'at risk' areas were: making data-driven decisions; predicting and monitoring skills gaps; using data analytics to remove bias from hiring and reward; HR’s understanding of technology; engaging with flexible talent; giving the workforce manageable workloads that allowed them to make full use of holiday allowance; using sophisticated workforce planning; allowing employees to choose multiple career paths; having talent practices and processes that nurture agility and adaptability; and designing workspaces to promote wellbeing.

Brexit may speed-up move to job automation

In a separate report, 'Brexit - Retaining Talent Through Change', 34 per cent of UK managers said their organisations had considered automating elements of their business to tackle skills shortages that might arise when Britain leaves the EU.The survey by Adecco Group UK and Ireland's found that the percentage contemplating such a move rose to 44 per cent in London.While 71 per cent of managers believed Brexit would make skills harder to acquire, a fifth of organisations admitted they had no strategy to tackle it.Alex Fleming, president of staffing and solutions at Adecco, said: "The idea that Brexit will exacerbate the UK's skills shortage is not a new one, but with one in five businesses not planning to do anything to mitigate this, not all organisations are prepared to deal with this reality."In order to not just succeed but thrive once the UK leaves the EU, every employer needs to have a plan for how they will address current and potential future talent challenges. Looking to other countries and how they have dealt with labour shortages can help."In Singapore, for example, organisations are being encouraged to create opportunities for older workers, and think about how they can design jobs to help extend their working lives."Alongside making better use of your existing workforce and improving your retention rates, thinking about how to attract potentially untapped sources of talent can help futureproof your organisation in the face of any skills gaps - Brexit related or not."

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