Written by Josh Musominari
In previous industrial revolutions, the impact on the labour force and various positions has meant major changes to the way we work, and the type of work we do. The Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, is consistently advancing on a daily basis as progression in automation, the scope of the internet and artificial intelligence continue to change the world we live in. Unlike previous revolutions, the power and ability the advancements represent will affect every profession and possibly create a world where work as a whole is less prevalent. While this will take time, the government are aware that these progressive changes will require a revitalisation of our skills on a macro level. The additional complexities of a global pandemic are only accelerating this need and will likely form a large part of policy and strategy going forward.
In 2017 the government announced, “The National Retraining Scheme”, a programme designed to help reduce the complexity of the adult education landscape and assist in retraining for better jobs. This has been accelerated in light of the pandemic, as the government looks to address the consequential rise in unemployment. The main method of delivery is a digital platform that contains a course and job directory, where those embarking on careers could access a clearer route to successfully obtain better and higher skilled positions. The current platform offers multiple opportunities to upskill in essential skills for a variety of career paths for free, designed by the ESA, universities and large corporations such as Google and Microsoft. This programme is still young and being developed, having been accelerated to meet the current circumstances but does it have the scope to promote more effective retraining and skills for those looking, either from necessity or desire?
With multiple sectors now damaged from the effects of the consequential restrictions within the UK, the advancement of apprenticeship schemes and the furlough period will enable uptake in these clear routes for those affected. These schemes will now mean that organisations will have a host of options to effectively acquire new employees going forward. The current levels of competition for jobs in the market is a major challenge and these schemes will advance the labour markets response to COVID-19.
Organisations will also find themselves restructuring and reorganising their human inputs. Multiple job roles will need to be adapted to meet the loss of certain skillsets and organisations will need to find ways to effectively provision training. Internal upskilling and learning and development teams will need to find ways to bridge gaps in knowledge, while still maintaining operational effectiveness.
On the consequence, some of these effects will largely be mitigated in their ability to make an immediate impact. Estimates suggest that the labour market will take years to recover in the same way and the overall health of the economy is always going to be a key factor in the labour markets health.
In summary, there are still hurdles to overcome in the business climate and multiple sectors will take years to recover. This will mean that employees from a variety of sectors will need to transfer their knowledge and defining clear routes to enable career changes is essential to the government’s efforts in addressing the economic fallout of the pandemic. Rapidly deploying and improving upon the facilities available to support those out of work is essential. Organisations will have a prime opportunity to acquire talent from skilled employees in underperforming industries.
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