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Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

The COVID-19 Pandemic has Ignited an Uneven Acceleration of Digital Upskilling

Custom Content by the Los Angeles Business Journal

While 40% of workers say their digital skills improved during the lockdown, data shows unequal access to career and training opportunities.

One of the largest-ever studies of the global workforce shows:
• Two in five believe their job will be obsolete within 5 years

• Half of the global workforce report missing out on career opportunities due to bias

• Training opportunities focused on those who already have high levels of skills

• Younger people report being more focused on maximizing income than ‘making a difference’

• Only 1 in 10 of those who can work remotely want to go back to a traditional commute and work environment full time

• But people are taking their future into their own hands:  77% are ready to learn new skills or completely re-train and 49% would like to set up their own business

A recent survey of 32,500 workers in 19 countries paints a picture of a global workforce that sees the shift to remote working as just the tip of the iceberg. Reflecting the fact the pandemic has accelerated a number of workforce trends, 60% are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk; 48% believe ‘traditional employment won’t be around in the future’ and 39% think it is likely that their job will be obsolete within 5 years.
However, this is not a counsel of despair, as 40% of workers say their digital skills have been improved through the prolonged period of lockdown, and claim they’ll continue to embrace training and skill development. 77% are ‘ready to learn new skills or completely re-train’ and 74% see training as a matter of personal responsibility. And, 80% are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering their workplace.
In addition, 49% of respondents are focused on building entrepreneurial skills with an interest in setting up their own business.

Inclusion Challenges

The survey also found that 50% of workers say they’ve faced discrimination at work which led to them missing out on career advancement or training. 13% report missing out on opportunities as a result of ethnicity and 14% of workers have experienced discrimination on the grounds of gender, with women twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men. 13% report discrimination on the basis of class, with post-graduates and others with higher qualifications more likely to report prejudice. Younger people are as likely as older people to report discrimination based on age.

On top of that, the survey found there are disparities in access to upskilling opportunities. While 46% of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them many opportunities to improve their digital skills, just 28% of people with school-leaver qualifications say the same. Industries like retail or transport, which are most at risk of disruption, score just 25% and 20% respectively; while banking scores 42%.

“If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite,” said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organization Practice. “Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most-at risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not.”

Making a Difference

Three-quarters of workers globally (75%) say they want to work for an organization that will make a ‘positive contribution to society.’

However, economic insecurity is limiting people’s ability to pursue purpose driven careers, with younger people particularly affected. Overall, 54% of those polled said, if forced to choose, they would prefer a job that enabled them to ‘take every opportunity to maximize their income’ over a job that ‘makes a difference’ (46%).

Interestingly, those between 18 and 34 are more likely than other generations to prioritize income over purpose in their job with 57% prioritizing ‘maximizing their income’ over ‘making a difference’ (43%), a margin of 14 points. Those over 55 prioritize making a difference by a margin of 8 points, which rises to 22 points amongst workers over 65.

“As the world continues to grapple with a global health crisis and economic uncertainty, we’ve seen workers come to demand more from the business community, expecting their employers to make a positive contribution to society,” said Peter Brown, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organization Practice. “Fortunately, focusing on societal impact and maximizing profit are not mutually exclusive, and being a purpose-led business can actually help boost your bottom line.”

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