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robots will become extremely valuable. Human-only work is our future.”1 If the workplace is undergoing seismic and rapid change, it stands to reason that workplace learning has to change too. But for those in charge of workplace learning, the challenge is far more urgent because it has to be ahead of the time, all of the time. For this reason, you need to be setting your sights further ahead. Being in the present isn’t enough. Te question therefore isn’t:

“How do we prepare our employees for 2017-18 or 2018-19?” Rather, it’s: “What do we do now, to ensure everyone in our organisation has all the skills and tools that they’ll need further down the line?”

Te good news is that change is

good. It’s stagnation you should fear. If you don’t change, you’ll be left behind. So don’t feel daunted at the prospect of doing things differently. Be inspired. Be excited. Embrace change.

Era of opportunity

As part of my role as head of innovation at a digital learning provider, I evaluate and explore technologies to test their value for workplace learning. I look at which innovations will help employees develop and grow their skills and add the most value to organisations. My starting point is to study

Digital technology doubles its capability every year

how the future of work might look. More than at any other time in history, technology is evolving at an exponential pace. Why? Because in the digital era, we are able to use today’s technology to develop tomorrow’s. Whereas in the First Industrial Revolution, the changes were powered by steam – which would eventually run out of steam! – today, the technology is able to ‘feed’ its own ever-increasing rapid development. Te World Economic Forum

(WEF) calls this the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Digital technology doubles its capability every year. In the past, we never had this kind of intelligent technology at our fingertips, so development wasn’t as rapid or on such a scale. And, because it delivers twice as much each year, it’s getting cheaper. So what does all this mean?

Te WEF predicts it will impact all walks of life in every part of the globe. And it’ll happen at high speed. Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, says: “In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything that humankind has experienced before … it will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to each other.”2 However, he questions whether

we’re ready for this transformation: “Te speed is mind boggling. What I am particularly concerned about is how little the world is prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Te WEF produced a powerful

in which some of the leading global names in business contributed their thoughts on the future. Here’s what Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, had


to say: “If we are not innovative, if we are not creative enough, it will be very difficult to survive in this century.” And perhaps the most powerful statement of all came from Mukesh Ambani, MD of the giant Indian company, Reliance Industries: “Hu- manity itself will be changed with this super intelligence and we are at the doorstep of that era.” A pretty amazing quote, isn’t it? Te message from all of these industry leaders and innovators is that change is good. We’re already seeing how

digital technology has opened up new opportunities to work in a flexible way, like never before. In many cases, where you work is now largely irrelevant. You can work in the office, at home, in work hubs or abroad. Geographical location is no barrier because there are no borders when it comes to the internet and 21st century communications. So we have more diverse workforces. Sud- denly, this has enabled whole new ways of employing ‘talent’. Remote working means you can hand-pick the best peo- ple as and when you need them. Work will involve more collaborations and partnerships alongside employed staff. Customers will continue to

call the shots – only more so. Tey expect ready answers to questions. Your staff will need to have those answers in their head or to hand. Te biggest change, of course,

is that technology will perform many of the routine jobs and ‘left side brain’ tasks previously done by employees. Entire industries will be transformed. Jobs will go; others will emerge in their place, jobs that require different skills. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has said the advent of technology is “really creating the need for those that have a technical background”.4

Humans and  | AUGUST 2017 | 15

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