Aotearoa New Zealand’s Skills Revolution: Investing To Grow Tomorrow’s Prosperous, Future-fit & Capable Kiwis

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By Kerry Topp, Associate Director, Transformation and Innovation

We can’t slow down the rate of technological change, change is rapid and all around us. The skills cycle, the rate at which skills are needed, is rapidly increasing both globally and in New Zealand. 

 We are at the crucible moment where leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand need to be proactive and responsible in the “right-skilling” or retraining of their workforce. For right-skilling, organisations need to have a strategic plan for talent to make the shift. Any good talent strategy should focus on retaining and training existing talent, as well as acquiring new workers.

“It’s becoming more important to prepare than adapt. By the time you realize the need to adapt, it may already be too late.”Greg Satell | Author | Speaker | Innovation Adviser

In this context, what can we do as leaders to ensure our organisations, society and above all, our people, are future-fit and ready, now? In this post we will look at why we believe it is crucial for corporate leaders to increase their investment in employees’ skills today so New Zealand Aotearoa is able to increase the prosperity, wellbeing and capability of our people, organisations and country, tomorrow.

The Skills Revolution Is Here!

Recently Manpower, a global leader in contingent and permanent recruitment workforce solutions, asked 18,000 employers in 43 countries across six industry sectors how they expect technology will impact their business in the next two years, and how they are ensuring their workforce has the right skills and is ready to adapt – specifically, they looked at:

  • The likely impact of automation on headcount in the next two years,
  • Which functions will be most affected,
  • The strategies they are adopting to ensure they have the skills they need for technological advances.

“We are seeing the emergence of a Skills Revolution — where helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time.“ – Jonas Prising | Chairman & CEO | ManpowerGroup

What Manpower found was that more than 90 percent of employers expect their organization to be impacted by digitisation in the next two years. In addition, on average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skillsets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.

The World Economic Forum identified that skills cycles are shorter than ever before and some 65 percent of the jobs Gen Z will perform do not even exist yet. They also found that up to 45 percent of the tasks people are paid to do each day could be automated with current technology. We have of course adapted to the evolution of the labour market before — from tellers to customer service representatives, typists to word processors and personal assistants — disrupting, destroying, redistributing and recreating work is nothing new. The difference now is the life cycle of skills is shorter than ever and change is happening at an unprecedented scale.

“On average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.” – World Economic Forum

The Conclusion Is Widespread

It is not just Manpower or The World Economic Forum that are drawing similar conclusions. The evidence of a skills revolution is also coming through loudly from the likes of the Big Four and research organisations, like McKinsey & Co, Gartner, PWC as well:

  • 51 percent of all activities can soon be done without humans, impacting and changing 60 percent of current jobs [McKinsey, Future of Work 2017].
  • The future of the workforce will be dominated by those born between 1980-mid 90s. And what they want from work is different. A strong sense of alignment on values and purpose, over profit, is the main goal. According to PWC’s Managing tomorrow’s people: The future of work to 2020 report, 88 percent are looking for alignment on corporate social responsibility, with their personal values.
  • According to PWCs Workforce of the Future study, 74 percent of global employees are now actively up-skilling themselves to take advantage of the new economy.
  • A study by Mavenlink found that given the opportunity, 65% of workers would pursue contract work. Whilst it’s not a new addition to hiring trends, it’s still worth calling out that flexibility is key, with the option to work remotely influencing the likelihood of accepting a position for 68% of new workforce entrants. There are many more ways to ‘work’ emerging and becoming main-stream. Which opens up new and creative ways for organisations to run their HR budgets, and individuals to design a career with more flexibility.

Those With The Right Skills Will Thrive

Based on this research, it is clear, those with the right skills will increasingly be in the driving seat, create new opportunities and have the choice and flexibility to work where, how, and when they like. Those lacking the right skills will increasingly be left behind and the outlook for the future for them is not rosy. There is a continued polarisation of the population that is playing out right in front of all our eyes and it will, if not rapidly addressed, be costly for society and business.

How Do We Ensure NZInc Has The Right Skills To Thrive?

At Datacom, we believe that now is the time for company leaders to be responsive and responsible! We cannot slow the rate of technological advance or globalisation, but we can invest in employees’ skills to increase the resilience of our people, organisations but also society. I contend that we are seeing the emergence of what World Economic Forum calls, the Skills Revolution.

Yes, individuals absolutely need to nurture their ‘learnability’: their desire and ability to learn new skills to stay relevant and remain employable; but leaders in New Zealand need to take immediate action to fast track the upskilling and reskilling of existing employees to ensure New Zealand Aotearoa has access to a workforce with the skills required for the future.

So, let’s have a look at what we are doing to support the resilience of our people.

In a recent McKinsey survey, 75 percent of executives said they believed reskilling would fill at least half of their future talent needs, given the war for talent and hiring difficulties. The survey highlighted that people working in IT and customer-facing roles are likely to see the greatest increases in demand, but they also anticipated rapid growth in demand across almost all industries and geographies for data analysts required to make sense of big data, and for specialised sales, product and commercial managers to commercialise new digitised offerings.

At Datacom we firmly believe that from learning comes creativity and from creativity comes innovation. One of the activations we have in this space is Datacomp, our annual innovation hackathon, which has been running since 2012 and is designed to keep our people sharp and give them an opportunity to trial and test new skills and experiences in a safe environment.

Watch Datacomp 2018 video

One of the benefits of Datacomp is that every year each person in our business gets the chance to take part in a significant learning and development opportunity. Our goal in providing the program – called Datacomp StayingSharp – is simple, to add to our peoples’ C.V.s! Not because we want them to go, but rather, because we want them to stay.

Over the last seven years that Datacomp has been running we have seen over 1,000 people trained in lean canvasing, design thinking, presenting and pitching, plus get ongoing exposure to the latest technology and insights.

Having The Opportunity And Feeling Safe Are Important

Our view is that giving our people the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, ways of working and tech is positive and inspiring for all – most importantly, our people and customers. We aim to give our people a safe environment to experiment and try new things, things that they don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do in their day job.

Datacomp 2018 winners

Winning team from Datacomp 2018

We don’t do this lightly. We are actively and deliberately seeking to lead our own people and also other organisations to keep up with the ever-demanding skills cycle.

“Remember, you’re not in charge. You are responsible for those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek | Founder | Visionary | Author | Speaker

As Simon Sinek, internationally acclaimed speaker and author, said leaders are not responsible for the job. Leaders are responsible for the people, who are responsible for the job.

Watch Simon Sinek speak.

If we accept that the pace of technological change has accelerated us to a crucible moment where leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand need to invest in employees’ skills today to increase the prosperity, wellbeing & capability of our people, organisation & country, tomorrow, then as a leader, I encourage you to ask yourself: what are you doing to deliver a brighter future for your people?

Further references

 

Bridging Australia’s Technology Skills Gap

It’s not news that Australia has struggled to build a reliable cache of IT specialists for several years. The implications of this lack of skilled domestic IT labour have been far-reaching. In 2011, only 37 per cent of IT graduates between the ages of 20 and 29 had jobs in the IT field, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The number of 457 or foreign worker visas  a program much contended by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard last year  has increased from 70,000 to 100,000 since the global financial crisis, according to an ABC Technology + Games article from October. What has contributed to this skills gap and how can Australia  and your organisation  work around it?

Schools and tools lacking

The most highly cited reasons for Australia’s dearth of domestic IT talent include a lack of technology education in schools and poor teacher training, which has led to an inability for new grads to find work in the IT field. While much ado was made about importing foreign workers to fill these gaps in 2013, the more pressing issue is that Australia will become disadvantaged economically if this domestic skills shortage continues.

The country is attempting to make inroads with a 22-point plan urged by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency in its ICT Workforce Study 2013. Amongst the efforts in the plan are:

  • A semester-long IT pilot delivered online to high school students to boost their tech savvy
  • Scholarships for teachers and pre-service teachers to pursue additional ICT qualifications
  • A national apprenticeship model delivered by the government to ICT technicians and trade workers for enterprises, especially small and medium-sized businesses
  • An ICT skills conversion pilot program administered by the Australian Computer Society for recent graduates from non-ICT disciplines, plus a one-year professional experience program for entry-level ICT professionals
  • Online courses piloted by Innovation and Business Skills Australia to give mature workers retraining opportunities so they can re-enter the workforce

Augmenting your staff

Australian businesses today still have a number of options for filling IT skills gaps within their own organisations. Already noted is the 457 visa program to bring in skilled workers from other countries. A growing trend according to the ABC article involves hiring IT freelancers who can do work like application development online from home. You could also give current staff additional training to get them to a baseline skillset level.

There is also the option of augmenting your staff  either permanently or temporarily  with skilled IT staff that are sourced from an outside agency. This approach reduces the need for an often costly and time-consuming hiring process. It also reduces the cost and time to skill up current staff.

While this option is most often offered through traditional talent sourcing agencies, Datacom’s Professional Services team has its own arm that specifically works to identify skilled IT workers from either our internal network or our vast external talent pool. Workers are available for short-term or long-term contracts and will match not only your desired skillset, but your company culture as well.

Australia may have a way’s to go to fill its in-country IT skills shortage, but the strides currently being made will lay a solid foundation for the future. Until then, there are options for businesses looking to boost their capabilities so they can drive performance and competitive advantage.