In the face of technological disruption, employers are once again reminded of the importance of upskilling, reskilling and retooling their workforce. During his speech at the 108th International Labor Organization Conference, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said: “The collective efforts to… ensure the dignity of labor against the backdrop of technological advances has never been more urgent than today.”[1] 

As more businesses adopt automation to increase productivity, few realize that it will not only impact the nature of jobs but the quality of the final product as well.

Why the Strong Push for Upskilling?

Automation Just Isn’t There Yet

In Capgemini’s research, 37 percent of enterprises said that their main reason for undertaking automation initiatives is to improve workforce productivity.[2] However, according to the majority of executives and employees who participated in the study, automation has not yet had a big impact on the productivity of their organization.

Low-Skill Jobs Are At Risk

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning become more prevalent in the workplace, there is a possibility that technology will displace or entirely replace low-skill and medium-skill workers. In the long run, this could lead to an overreliance on technology.

Overreliance on Tech Has Disadvantages

In an IndustryWeek article, Tesla’s Elon Musk admitted that an overreliance on robotic automation and too few human workers are partly to blame for some manufacturing delays they have recently experienced.[3] Without aptly skilled employees to oversee things, even the most high-tech machinery can be underutilized. 

Five Tenets of Successful Upskilling

The only way to reap the full benefits of automation is to bridge the gap between underskilled workers and technology. However, before you start your own upskilling program, keep these five tenets in mind:[4] 

  • Assess your technology investments and the extent of their impact on the workforce
  • Define the skills you need and when you need them
  • Make the upskilling program a win-win for your people and the organization
  • Align learning with organizational strategy
  • Enable leaders to communicate effectively and manage change

At the end of the day, a workforce trained for the future will be key in achieving company objectives. Organizations must invest in life-long learning and enterprise-based training to prepare for more advances in technology.


[1] Labor secretary urges worker skill upgrades to head off inequality, BusinessWorld

[2] The key to automation success? Upskilling your workforce, Information/Age

[3] Upskilling your people for the age of the machine, Capgemini Research Institute

[4] Companies Are Upskilling Workers in Response to Job Automation, IndustryWeek


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