Automation and skills development – an unlikely duo

The digital transformation continues to change the way we work – and one of the most commonly known ways is through automation. While the automated economy is often seen as a threat to many of today’s jobs, ManpowerGroup SA’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, is of the opinion that it will open up employment opportunities for those with the right skillsets.

“While it is true that automation has already begun to infiltrate many industries, and in some cases replace humans for certain tasks, the news is not all bad. Automation also presents the opportunity for new roles, organisational departments and even industries to be created. What will become most important is having the right skills to be able to work in conjunction with technology, respond quickly to innovation and adapt to the changes in the workforce,” says van den Barselaar.

While automation and skills development might seem an unlikely duo, they are fast becoming the most important duo of the modern business environment. “Skills like coding, data analytics and representation, SEO, SQL, Java and C#, for example, will continue to become more and more important in the successful running of all organisations, and those who have the right skills will be at the top of the employment food chain,” she says.

This makes education, training and skills development more important than ever. “This is another important area that the digital transformation has improved; through online learning platforms education and skills training has become more accessible than ever. Platforms like Manpower Group’s powerYOU digital training platform, which provides online access to thousands of online courses and certifications covering a range of topics (including those linked to automation) for people to update their existing skills as well as explore new ones to develop for future job opportunities, make skills development convenient. Anyone with an Internet connection and a mobile device can access online education in their own time. Not only is this revolutionary in terms of the South African business environment, but will bode well for entrepreneurship and economic development too,” states van den Barselaar.

In conclusion, van den Barselaar says that the responsibility lies with South African employers too. “While learners, graduates, job seekers and currently employed individuals should be keeping up to date with market trends and taking advantage of online educational platforms, it is important that employers are aware of the important role they play in the development of skills across the board,” she says.

“Not only should they be implementing skills development training strategies in the workplace, as part of their employee relations strategies, but they should be looking for opportunities to extend this out to the youth – through internships and graduate programs, for example. The digital skills revolution is upon us,” concludes van den Barselaar.