People and processesDigital SkillsThe need for public sector to upskill workforce revealed in new report

The need for public sector to upskill workforce revealed in new report

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report has found a pressing need for the public sector to retrain their workers to cope with the shift towards technological advancements such as AI.

The report highlights that with proper training and an agile mindset of both workers and leaders, automation and algorithms can improve the quality of people’s jobs. However, the report also acknowledges that the so called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ will reduce the number of workers needed for certain tasks.

Without addressing the significant skills gaps that currently exist, the current workforce will be unable to benefit from technological change, the report says. The WEF estimates that 54% of the current workforce will need some form of retraining, in particular data analytics skills are expected to be one of the most in-demand skills by 2022. Analysis also found that there will be huge demand for a variety of new specialist roles related to understanding and using emerging technologies; job titles such as Machine Learning Specialists, Process Automation Specialists and Information Security Analysts will become common.

However, the report also highlights the need for soft skills in tandem with technological skills. Distinctly human skills such as strategic and creative thinking will also be vital to this technological revolution, if successful the increased automation of jobs should free workers to use their talents instead of focusing on routinised, repetitive tasks. Thus, the world economic forum urges that both the public and private sectors adopt an ‘augmentation strategy’ which utilises automation and augments their employees’ skills to reach their full potential to perform new high value-added work tasks, some of which will have never before been performed by human workers. To do this, there must be inclusive strategies and programmes for skills retraining and upgrading across the entire workforce.

The authors of the report state that it’s key that governments address the impact of new technologies on their workforce, primarily through upgraded education policies, especially in the STEM fields and non-cognitive soft-skills. The report also stresses that these efforts by governments should be matched on the demand side through public and leveraged private investment in job creation.

Creative solutions

Creative solutions are therefore clearly needed to adjust to this change in demand in the skills that the workforce possesses. Which is exactly what a new partnership between data company Tableau and one of the UK’s biggest training providers AVADO aims to do, through the launch of their major data skills initiative.

This will consist of online courses enabling workers to upskill and become more data literate. As well as providing a formal apprenticeship for school leavers in data analytics, which employers can access for free through the apprenticeship levy. The scale of the partnership is impressive. The partnership’s aim to train over 3,000 new data analysts by 2020 through the apprenticeship programme.

Mark O’Donoghue, CEO at AVADO said: “The future competitiveness of UK PLC will increasingly be tied to the data literacy of its workforce. Whilst it’s not practical for all employees to be data scientists, it’s crucial that everyone can boast a good level of data literacy across the board. If data is the new oil, then creating a common language and enhancing understanding of how data can be best put to business benefit is a key objective for all organisations.”

He continued, “Quality data focused apprenticeships and top‐up courses provide a practical and attractive route for businesses to access new talent and reskill current employees in an increasingly data driven environment. When it came to developing training programmes to satisfy this demand, we wanted to work with a leader in the space. Partnering with Tableau made absolute sense.”

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