By Marc Zao-Sanders, CEO and Co-Founder of Filtered
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is on the horizon and brings with it a wave of unprecedented digitalisation. New technology will bring about a huge shift in the way businesses operate, something we’ve already seen with the pandemic’s catalysing effect on digital adoption.
This is great news for business too, especially startups. Time is of the essence for smaller companies, especially in that crucial first year of business. Many are still in the R&D stage; as time goes on, costs increase, and no money is coming in.
Technology can cut scaling time dramatically, automating simple processes so that busy entrepreneurs can better focus on growing their business. This is already transforming the world of business and has the potential to create new tech hubs and even whole new industries.
But, as with all big shifts in business, there are negative consequences too. At the pace with which digitalisation is disrupting business, who stands to lose out?
The answer is both employers and employees, as they grapple with an increasingly under-skilled workforce.
The growing skills gap
When new strategies and programmes are implemented in a business, it takes a while for employers to fully implement the change. And where that change involves technology, the time it takes can double. Procurement, IT, SMEs, technical specialists… with so many stakeholders, it’s hard to complete projects with any real speed and for employees to upskill with the new initiatives.
Now compound the enormous amount of technology being deployed across a business and the time it now takes to upskill a workforce becomes almost insurmountable. This gap between deploying new technologies and giving staff the skills to use it is only going to grow as we enter the 4IR. So how can we bridge the divide?
Bridging the divide
The only way for employers to bridge the gap between new tech and new skills is by putting themselves at the forefront of technology. Before encouraging the workforce to learn how to operate new technologies, employers have to be able to get ahead of the new tech first.
That’s not as impossible as it sounds.
Learning currently isn’t personalised, relevant or engaging, which means it’s not having a meaningful impact on upskilling. By fixing learning, employers can get employees up to speed quickly on new technologies.
If employers prioritise learning harnessing new technologies such as AI-enhanced skills analysis and content recommendations, they will massively reduce the time it takes to learn new skills by reducing the clutter and finessing the way learning is delivered. The problem is not a lack of content; we all know there are hundreds of programmes, podcasts, ebooks and articles on any given skill. An employer should focus on getting the right course in front of the right person at the right time to bridge the divide.
By ensuring employees are receiving plenty of feedback, testing and further training, only on the areas they haven’t quite mastered, learning can be expedited. And by reducing the noise around L&D without compromising on the quality of training, skills can be delivered much quicker and in line with the speed of digitalisation.
Time is of the essence
Technology is improving productivity dramatically, but it can only do so if employees possess the right skills to use it. Employers need to address this by first focusing on EdTech to upskill staff and fully utilise the benefits that the 4IR will bring.