Upskilling global workforce ‘crucial’

Employers must radically change their cultures and confront demographic challenges if they are to tackle global skills shortages in key sectors, the final day of the World Economic Forum in Davos was told.

training workforce
Addressing the 'Global Jobs Outlook' discussion on Thursday, Hisayuki Idekoba - whose Recruit Holdings company owns job search engine Indeed and employer review site Glassdoor - identified the ageing workforce, the rapid changes in attitude towards work-life balance, and changes in immigration and migration as three major challenges facing employers.

On ageing populations, he cited the fact that, in the US, a quarter of the existing workforce was aged over 55 and that the country was facing a three% reduction in the working population over the next 10 years.

Remote work is a must for the younger generation

Meanwhile, Mr Idekoba said the younger generation's attitude to work had fundamentally changed, mainly as a result of the pandemic. “The attitude to work-life balance has been changing in the younger generation,” he said.

“People love flexibility and remote work. There are now five times as many job searches for jobs with remote work options.”

On immigration, Mr Idekoba said its economic benefits were being seen in developed countries but he accused the US and UK of adopting policies aimed at limiting migration.

The impact of technology and the 'green revolution' on the future of jobs also loomed large in the panel discussion, with the gathering hearing that 44% of workers with low education and skills were at risk of losing their jobs to automation by the mid-2030s.

Virtual training could provide more opportunities for employees

But François-Phillipe Champagne, Canada's minister of innovation, science and industry, said that the adoption of virtual training programmes and artificial intelligence could create more job opportunities than they take away.

"Technology is a great enabler," he said. "Robots are going to be key to increasing productivity. The challenge will be investing in upskilling and re-skilling the workers whose jobs will become redundant."

Mikael Damberg, Sweden's minister of finance, added that national education and training programmes would be crucial particularly as countries adapted to the "green transition".

He also said that encouraging worker migration to industrial hubs could be important. "After 10 to 15 years of giving subsidies to people to move to Stockholm to get jobs, now we have to think of how to get people to more from Stockholm or Gothenburg to the northern part of Sweden where the new industrial jobs are being created," Mr Damberg said.

Companies need to invest in upskilling

Aiman Ezzat, CEO of the multinational information technology services and consulting company Capgemini, said the pandemic, coupled with the rapid emergence of the green economy, had fuelled demand for digitalisation across the board.

“We have increased our workforce by 55,000 globally in last 12 months but it is not enough. We have let schemes go by because there are not the skills to pursue them,” he said.

“There must be more upskilling and training. Companies are not committing enough to investing in upskilling."

He added that borders were no impediment to talent. “Today, borders don’t matter – the geographic location doesn’t matter. We are heading to a totally globalised labour market. We are hiring from everywhere. I don’t care where people are.”

Nicolas Schmit, European commissioner for jobs and social rights, agreed that “we need to alter our education system to meet the new needs of the labour market - this is a big issue”.
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