Bridging the Skills Gap Created by Job Automation

Switching careers in our automated paradigm can still be a smooth process. The key is to chart jobs that are similar to yours.

It can be nearly impossible to find a new job for physical labourers whose jobs have disappeared due to automation or global outsourcing, especially if they lack higher education. Sadly, many such workers find that their experience is ill-matched to today’s labour market. The decline of middle-skill jobs further adds to a growing pool of workers who are finding themselves alienated from the current employment mainstream.

The days of working 50 years at one company and retiring with a pension and a gold watch are long gone. People today rarely spend their entire careers at one organisation. As such, employers are often hesitant to invest in training and development for new skills. Employees also find little incentive to invest in their own training, as there is no guarantee it will pay off in the long run.

Even overcoming that hurdle, the process to acquire new skills and seek new occupations is not so easy. Not everyone has the self-awareness to accurately assess their own abilities, and even less have a detailed understanding of what other jobs entail.

However, herein lies the silver lining: seemingly dissimilar jobs can overlap in unexpected ways. For example, the jump from basic machinery operations e.g. farming and mining to computer numeric controlled machinery used for advanced manufacturing is not big at all. Many retraining programs are available, some for 20 weeks or less. There is no need to pursue a new degree, which is unrealistic for many workers made redundant anyway.

Of course, for younger people the answer is much simpler. Going back to studying and discovering a new profession is still very much an option. Public policy can chip in too, from paid apprenticeships that allow people to learn on the job… to subsidised education reducing the cost for career investment.

Despite all the rapid changes technology has brought upon in the workforce, too many employers still hire based on fixed credentials such as university qualifications or previous job titles. The more modern and effective approach is to assess the skills, mental aptitude and personal traits that are most relevant for a given role. Many of these can be accurately determined pre-hire through predictive analytics. Technology is not just a disruption to the jobs of a bygone era, but also has come together with psychology to help facilitate the transference of skills from job to job by identifying the right job for the right person.


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