The automation of skills has a significant impact on companies and their operations. It contributes to the evolution of jobs, and thus gives rise to reflections on the importance of training, which today seems essential to the durability of companies. Here is a closer look at this phenomenon.
What is skill automation?
Driven by artificial intelligence, the capabilities of machines and algorithms are evolving in a remarkable way. Over the years, they are taking over more and more simple and repetitive tasks previously entrusted to humans.
Today, it is estimated that 61% of skills can be automated and that the average lifespan of a skill is 5 years. In the years to come, many workers will see part of their skills – and for some, even almost all of them – become obsolete. Anticipating automation and its consequences on jobs is therefore becoming a real challenge for companies.
« Today, 61% of skills can be automated. »
Why is training essential?
The rise of automation offers companies the opportunity to evolve and, in some cases, to strengthen their competitiveness in their market. However, the use of automated solutions is not without consequences, and implies adaptations in terms of organization.
Faced with its influence on the sustainability of certain skills, or even certain professions, automation can be perceived as a threat. Certain levers can be used to limit the negative effects of automation. Training is the most effective. More specifically, it is becoming necessary for employees to acquire new skills today that machines will not be able to replace in the near future.
→ Which skills should be trained?
In practice, training efforts should focus on hard and soft skills that machines cannot replace.
- Hard skills
Hard skills, or technical skills, correspond to know-how. They are often linked to a particular profession or field and are generally acquired through professional experience. Diplomas can also validate the acquisition of specific hard skills.
In a context of automation of skills, it is essential to develop high-level technical skills and to encourage the emergence of expert profiles. The possession of these types of skills is a differentiating factor for both employees and companies.
- Soft skills
Soft skills are interpersonal qualities, relational skills, and personal attributes. They are not linked to a particular job or professional field; they are generally transversal. Among them, soft skills related to information and advice to customers are bound to grow with the development of automation.
→ Some concrete examples
In our study “The impact of Automation on skills and jobs: who needs a skill boost?” we looked at the impact of automation on skills and training needs in three industries.
Cashiering is one of the most challenging jobs in retail. The risk of automation is over 80%. The number of cashiers at the point of sale is decreasing due to the increasing use of automatic checkouts. The increasing digitalization and empowerment of the retail industry is expected to further accentuate this trend in the years to come. In the short term, it becomes necessary to focus training efforts on customer support and equipment maintenance.
The automotive sector has already undergone major transformations linked to automation and robotization, especially for production lines. One of the most stable jobs in the sector is that of an automotive engineer. However, this sector has also undergone major transformations in recent years.
Some of the emerging dimensions of the job of automotive engineer are those of the Internet of Things and data analysis. These are strategic fields in which employees will have to continue to develop their skills in the coming years to remain competitive and maintain their employability.
Among the professionals of the financial sector, bank advisors are also seeing their job transform. The emergence of intelligent assistants and the automation of certain time-consuming tasks has made their job evolve towards more advice and customer relations. The development of their communication skills and their ability to advise is becoming crucial.
What are the global training needs in the face of automation?
Training is the key to dealing with skills automation effectively. However, changes are expected. Let’s look at France for a moment: Currently, 25 million training courses are given each year in France. However, a large proportion of these are compulsory (prevention, hygiene, safety, etc.) and concern profiles with few or no qualifications. The acquisition of new skills is often not a priority.
At the same time, it is estimated that the need for training to retrain French employees is about 100 million. On the business side, it is therefore essential to:
- increase the annual volume of skills training;
- prioritize training needs for employees most affected by the risk of automation;
- to do what is necessary to reduce the time needed to access training;
- to integrate real training time over the year.
In fact, with the automation of jobs and skills, the training sector is also bound to evolve in order to meet the needs of companies.
Illustration credits: https://www.istockphoto.com/fr/portfolio/liravega