Collaboration with AI
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Collaboration with AI

“We’re entering the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution. That early first wave was all about the steam engine which made possible trains and automation. The second wave of the industrial revolution was really about the introduction of electricity. The third wave of the industrial revolution was about computing and things going digital. And we all recognize those arcs. So, think back over those previous waves, right? Steam engine, electricity, computers, and now AI,” explains cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell.

The differentiating factor between humans and machine intelligence is our emotional intelligence or ‘soft skills.’ No matter how tech or financially savvy our leaders get, ‘people skills’ is still the glue that holds the picture of success together.

Yes, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has begun, and we are seeing future-minded companies investing in soft skills learning solutions for their talent.

Case study : BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group, Bank of Montreal, won the 2019 Best Award for Leadership in Corporate Learning.

BMO invests $78 million annually in employee learning, which in 2018 averaged out to $1,726 and 23.7 hours per employee.

Investing in our people is key to BMO’s long-term sustainability. We know that career potential is the number one reason employees come to BMO. At the same time, attracting and retaining top talent ensures we are providing the best experiences to our customers,” says Karen Collins, Chief Talent Officer at BMO. “To remain competitive, we need to be bold on talent, creating the conditions for human and machine partnerships and building and nurturing a culture that sparks engagement and encourages learning, growth, creativity and innovation.”

According the World Economic Forum report in 2018 ‘human’ skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will likewise increase in, or retain, their value, as will attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.

Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence, as well as service orientation, will also see an outsized increase in demand, requiring a mindset of agile learning on the part of workers as they shift from the routines and limits of today’s jobs to new, previously unimagined futures.

How to Reskill your staff for the AI era

With the current skills gap, and with a continuing digital skills gap, it’s never been more important to have training plans in place.  A new wave of automation, with the advent of true artificial intelligence, robots and driverless cars, is threatening the future of traditional jobs – from truck drivers to lawyers and bankers. But according to Microsoft Education, by 2025, this same technological revolution will open inspiring and exciting new career opportunities in sectors that are only in their infancy today.

65 percent of today’s students will be going into jobs that don’t even exist yet.

This means companies need to be focused on reskilling their existing employees with human skills that will complement the collaboration, together with new technologies.

“Traditionally, people have learned in education and then entered the workplace. AI will significantly change this as the pace of development means we must constantly adapt and learn throughout our lives.” – Ian Fordham, Chief Learning and Skills Officer, Microsoft UK.

SA Skills Shortage

The politico-economic challenges in SA have left many businesses struggling. We too face a skills shortage and even more so with the emigration of highly trained or qualified people.  Due to these crises we must pay attention to identifying and addressing skills shortages through training and development. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 54 percent of employees will need significant re- and upskilling.

Not only will your employees benefit from reskilling, but your organization will too. An organisation with a great training and development programme is more likely to retain their employees and attract the right talent.  

With a focus on soft skill training, staff are more likely to be collaborative and innovative in the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Online platforms for training

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are offered by top universities to companies or individuals who wish to upskill themselves. Online education upends established teaching norms, getting rid of the classroom and giving learners the ability to study from just about anywhere.  This has provided employers the freedom to upskill their employees in order to adapt to future trends.

Platforms like Udemy and Coursera, have a great variety of courses, and employees can easily complete these courses at a fraction of the cost of studying full time. The LinkedIn Learning library offers over 5000 free courses and many professional development courses full of valuable insights into building soft skills.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The time is upon us, and companies, whilst struggling with day-to-day challenges, will also have to focus on developing the skills needed to enable them to thrive in the workplace of the future.

Investing in human capital should be a key business imperative and soft skill “human skills” development will be critical to companies’ medium to long-term growth, and to society.

People will be displaced by technology and will need to repurpose and reskill. We need to invest heavily in the development of new, agile learners in future workforces, by tackling improvements to education, and by developing training systems to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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