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What Employees Tell Us About Automation and Re-skilling

Source | sloanreview.mit.edu | Lynda Gratton

There is an ever greater focus on the impact of automation on work and what it will mean for jobs. Certain kinds of routine work are on the front lines, including the analytical activities of administrative assistants and bank cashiers, and the manual jobs of warehouse assistants, assembly line workers, and delivery drivers. Many tasks within these jobs are likely to be automated: For instance, delivery workers now scan packages and generate automated driving statistics.

The agenda for routine, lower-skilled work in this new world includes upskilling (giving employees access to new and often higher-value tasks within the same job) or re-skilling (making them able to accomplish a completely new set of tasks). Neither of these undertakings is straightforward, however. Bringing new skills to the workplace inevitably brings a range of stakeholders into the picture, including the companies doing the re-skilling, the government and education systems that help out, and the employees themselves.

We’ve heard from managerial populations about how they’re navigating this agenda. In a survey of CEOs, for example, two-thirds (67%) said they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose tasks and jobs are at risk of being automated out of existence.

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