Upskilling vs. AI: A Talent Leadership Choice

November 13, 2019 at 11:10 pm

Pros and cons.

The ever-widening skills gap in many organizations has led to a debate between upskilling the current workforce and investing in AI to fill the gap.

According to Foster’s Future of Work Report, by 2030, 29 percent of current jobs will be replaced through automation, and not even half of those will be replaced by positions related to AI. Many of the jobs lost are currently held by women, including secretaries, bookkeepers, and other clerical positions.

Much like the industrial revolution, automation will create opportunities for those who can learn new skills that will be needed as automation takes over. That’s where upskilling comes into play.

Advantages of Upskilling

If employees learn skills that will qualify them for jobs in one of the many areas of shortages currently in the workforce, they will likely end up better off than they were before. Companies that recognize this reality can help to provide these upskilling opportunities and make a difficult transitioning process easier for their employees.

AI will never be able to replace all jobs. Problem-solving, creativity, and innovation are still human functions that will be in more demand than ever when automation takes over many of the lower-skill, repetitive jobs currently available. Developing technical skills combined with soft skills like teamwork and collaboration will position employees to remain valuable even after automation becomes fully entrenched.

Navigating Changes

While companies don’t know yet what the new digital landscape will look like in 2030, there will be a much greater need for employees with technical skills like data analysts, data scientists, and machine learning engineers. Forward-looking companies can meet their challenges more effectively by seeing the changes that are about to happen and preparing employees now with the skills they will need later.

Using employee assessments will help to identify more personalized skills gaps and address them now, well before the changes automation is sure to bring. Not only will employees be able to gain the skills they will need for the future, but companies will also gain skilled employees ready to function in a new environment.

Rocks piled up.

A balance between adopting AI and upskilling workers is the best way to fill gaps.

Balancing AI and Upskilling

Focusing only on AI may seem to give the most long-term savings for companies; after all, once you buy the tech, it should be able to perform work for years without any further investment, other than repairs as needed. However, neglecting upskilling will eventually make it harder to fill the jobs that can’t be done by AI, and that could hamper your productivity in the long run.

It’s shortsighted to invest only or even mostly in AI without giving attention to upskilling. Talent leaders recognize that only a balance between the two will ultimately help companies be successful over the next few decades of massive change in most industries. The best-performing teams of the future will understand the role of AI, but will also be able to value human contributions to business that are equally essential.

Let Narish International help your business build higher-performing teams today.