New Reality, New Skills

As employees grapple with job insecurity and digitalisation, learning and development programmes are top of mind.

By Marta Chmielowicz

The COVID-19 crisis forced people to change the way they work overnight, with companies embracing rapid digitalisation to enable remote work. Today, many employers expect the changes to stick, creating a need to upskill and reskill workers to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.

PwC’s Upskilling Hopes and Fears 2021 survey of 32,500 workers across the globe shows that whilst workers are optimistic about the future, many are concerned about their job security. In fact:

  • Sixty per cent are worried that automation is putting their jobs at risk.
  • Over half (56%) of people globally and 81% in India think that few employees will have stable, long-term employment in the future.
  • Almost half (48%) believe that traditional employment will fall by the wayside in favor of a gig-style economy.
  • Thirty-nine per cent believe that their jobs will be obsolete within five years.
  • Whilst 80% of global employees are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering the workforce, this number drops to 69% in India and only 5% in Japan.

To remain competitive in the changing workplace, learning and development solutions are top of mind for workers. Forty per cent successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic and 77% are eager to continue learning new skills, with 74% viewing training as a matter of personal responsibility.

However, disparities in access to training remain:

  • Almost half (46%) of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them opportunities to learn new digital skills, compared to only 28% of those with school-level qualifications.
  • Industries like retail or transport, which are at highest risk of disruption, have low access to learning opportunities at 25% and 20%, respectively.
  • People in cities are 1.5 times as likely as people in towns to improve their skills in the workplace.
  • Younger people are twice as likely as older people to get learning opportunities.
  • Over half (51%) think that technology breakthroughs will transform the way people work over the next three to five years.

Many employees claim that discrimination is holding them back from access to learning or career advancement opportunities, with 50% of workers saying that they’ve faced discrimination at work. Twenty-two per cent were passed over because of their age, 13% reported missing opportunities as a result of ethnicity, 14% experienced gender discrimination, and 13% reported discrimination on the basis of social class. To reduce these disparities, making learning accessible to all employees must be a critical piece of diversity and inclusion efforts.

As leaders reimagine the offices of tomorrow, they need to arm workers with the skills they need to succeed and collaborate in a highly digital, hybrid workforce. But creating a learning programme with true impact will require honest conversations about access, equity, and discrimination to ensure equal opportunity across the workforce.

Posted April 15, 2021 in Engaged Workforcein Learning

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