Keeping Pace

Insight into need for digital skills from Salesforce/YouGov.

Keeping Pace

UK & Europe

Salesforce and YouGov have released research on how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will impact digital skills in the UK. Conducted amongst 2,000 UK workers, job seekers and students, it finds that over a third (37 per cent) fear that they won't be able to keep a job in the future if they don't acquire the skills to keep pace with technology.

The report considers how businesses can strike a balance between mitigating against this risk, while embracing the potential benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including improved employee output. The new research also uncovers that formal education, such as a university degree, is no longer enough to ensure someone is primed for the future workforce. All three groups are realising that continuous lifelong learning and diverse experience is essential when technological advancements are rapidly increasing, yet in many cases, employers continue to value traditional education paths above all others. 

Key findings in UK include:

    • Many are anxious about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: More than one in three workers (37 per cent) in the UK believe there is a risk they won’t be able to get a job in the future if they don't acquire further skills to match future technology.
    • Yet, they admit it can bring benefits: 63 per cent of UK workers believe that the development of their technological skills would have a positive impact on their company's overall efficiency.
    • Not everyone gains the skills they need from formal education: Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people who currently hold middle management roles in their organisations say they were never taught technology or digital skills while in full-time education.
    • Workers believe traditional education paths continue to be valued by employers above all others
    • Employers need to share responsibility in providing digital upskilling: The vast majority (91 per cent) of UK adults believe that it is important that employers provide training in technologies relevant to future jobs
    • Diversity is key to building successful teams in era of fast-paced innovation: Over half (52 per cent) of UK adults believe diverse teams are more likely to bring new thinking and new ideas to a business.

The report finds there is a tension at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on the UK market. On the one hand, the increased use of smart technology, such as AI and machine learning could improve employee efficiency and help to solve the UK’s major employee output problem. However, there's also a fear that it could leave individuals struggling to keep up with the jobs of the future. Businesses have a responsibility to help employees to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but how can they overcome the risks?

New research from Salesforce, carried out by YouGov, uncovers that the key to helping employees to thrive during this continued era of technological advancement, is to encourage a fundamental transformation of what we define as “education.” Businesses need to recognise that in 2018 and beyond, the ceremonial throw of a graduation cap is no longer enough to ensure someone is primed for the future workforce.

The study of over 2,000 UK workers, job seekers and students revealed that all three groups agree that continuous lifelong learning is essential when the pace of technological development is rapidly increasing. But, in many cases, they feel that employers continue to value traditional education paths, such as university degrees, most highly. The responses show that employers need to recognise and support other forms of learning and experience equally, alongside more traditional paths. This way, businesses can ensure that fair opportunities are provided to people of all backgrounds across the UK, while building a diverse team that is best-placed to thrive in the workplace of the future.

"Businesses, the government and education institutions have a combined responsibility to help employees to mitigate the risks and realise the benefits that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Andrew Lawson EVP and general manager UK, Salesforce. “This requires a fundamental transformation of what we consider to be ‘education’.

“Shifting to a model of continuous lifelong learning is essential when the pace of technological advancements is rapidly increasing,” Lawson suggests. “Employers can play their part by recognising other forms of learning and experience equally, alongside more traditional paths, and support their staff to embrace ongoing training and education. This way, businesses can ensure that fair opportunities are provided to people across the UK, while building a diverse team that is best-placed to support the workplace of the future.”

Antony Walker, deputy CEO, techUK commented: “As the UK economy becomes more digitised, the world of work is changing. Some jobs will be automated but lots more will be created, and almost every job will be changed in some way by digital technology. This report from Salesforce provides valuable insight into how the UK should prepare for change and ensure that we have a workforce equipped with the skills we need for the future.”



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