Something akin to the Industrial Revolution is taking place in industries from banking to manufacturing.
Industries are embarking on a digital transformation in order to get the kind of workforce that will be needed to survive in a more automated world (ref WSJ). This will require that tens of millions of mid-career workers will need to be retrained – people in all sorts of jobs will have to learn new skill sets or risk obsolescence. There’s a charming story that the Journal tells about a man who had spent more than 30 years working with mainframe computers and databases, when, about 3 years ago he found out his job risked extinction. His employer was “future proofing” its business with a shift away from mainframes to the cloud – and asked its aging workforce to do the same. The man describes his dilemma stating that he had always been the advice-giver to his managers but when faced with a side role on a cloud computing team he was stumped about some of the processes and had to go to “someone younger than any of my children” to ask for help in getting the job done. It was at this point that he realized that he really needed to get serious about the retraining regime. So he spent much of a family road trip, sitting in the passenger seat and doing coursework on his laptop and his coffee intake doubled when he was back the office so that he could “stay in the game,” (ref WSJ). Some companies have believed that they could save money by simply replacing people with newer skill sets – but the problem lies in the fact that there aren’t enough available to accomplish that. So companies are starting to give the message to their staffs: “We’re facing the biggest technological shift in our history. We will give you the tools to retrain, but it’s up to you to decide and put in the time.” Fortunately, it’s only around 10% who have decided against the retraining.
ALL THE MOVING PARTS – it’s the employees and their interest in the future of the organization who form a vital part of the company’s success.