by George Nott

IT giants back tech training portal for disrupted workers

Jan 24, 2018
Artificial IntelligenceBusiness IntelligenceCollaboration Software

No matter your profession – be it providing legal services or flipping burgers – your work will inevitably be affected by automation and algorithms.

For some it will mean their work time is freed up to work on higher value tasks. For others it will mean job losses.

According to a recent Infosys survey, 40 per cent of Australian business decision makers admitted they had or would be making positions redundant as a result of advancements in AI.

Maintaining rewarding employment in this new world is increasingly difficult. As a report published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group earlier this week, Towards a Reskilling Revolution, explains: disruptive technologies “threaten to swiftly outdate the shelf life of people’s skillsets and the relevance of what they thought they knew”.

Those that succeed, it continues, “will be those who can complement the work done by mechanical or algorithmic technologies, and ‘work with the machines’”.

Research in the report reveals one in four adults say there is a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need for their current job.

IT skills for the masses

Predominantly those skills relate to IT. But accessing learning materials can be difficult and costly. Now a World Economic Forum led initiative hopes to change that by providing an online portal with course materials provided by the world’s largest tech companies.

The IT Industry Skills Initiative brings together training materials from Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services. The first iteration of the portal goes live in April, with self-paced training materials ranging from general business skills to introductory digital literacy to more advanced topics such as cybersecurity, big data or the Internet of Things.

The portal will offer a tailored Skills Assessment; developed by PwC, to help users determine which coursework best fits their goals.

“In our dynamic world, technology has opened up many avenues for growth. However, we are also seeing how innovations such as artificial intelligence and automation can impact the workforce. It is important for all of us to recognise that without the talent we need, none of us would be successful,” saidChuck Robbins, chairman and CEO, Cisco.

“This initiative brings together the capabilities and strengths of all of our companies to help educate the high-skilled workers needed for jobs now and into the future. It is our obligation to make sure that people with jobs across every industry are given the means to learn new skills and remain competitive.”

The initiative aims to reach one million people around the world by January 2021.

“Technology is both the tool and the canvas and carries the huge promise of improving how we live and work. The counter side, however, is some degree of wariness by those who fear it disrupting their livelihoods, which is both understandable and expected,” said Michael Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies.

“We are focused on a large-scale, proactive solution that encourages continuing education to empower and inspire today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. We must engage with technology in a way that creates new opportunities, both at an individual level and in the aggregate.”

Pegasystems CEO Alan Trefler added: “Throughout history, we’ve seen technological advancement bring both opportunities and challenges as society adapts. With technology so central to how we live and work today, it’s critical that we enable people to acquire the skills required to be successful and to help society move forward in a positive direction.”