Navigating the Skills Revolution to shape a brighter digital future

Navigating the Skills Revolution To Shape A Brighter Digital Future
Stefano Scabbio, ManpowerGroup’s President of Northern Europe, Mediterranean & Eastern Europe, was part of ManpowerGroup’s delegation at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. We caught up with Stefano to understand how the Skills Revolution directly links to the themes discussed in Davos, and what the implications are for today’s leaders.

How does this year’s WEF theme ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’ relate to the Skills Revolution?

This year’s theme made the case for renewed commitment to international collaboration as a way of solving critical global challenges. Among the numerous agendas addressed at Davos, the focus of the business agenda was on helping industry and government leaders prepare for a Digital Age where new skills emerge as fast as others become obsolete.

In this Skills Revolution upskilling and reskilling the workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow will be critical for organisations to find the talent they need to remain competitive and for individuals to remain employable.

We can’t mention the rapidly changing geopolitical, economic or business landscapes without considering Brexit. While the true impact of Brexit remains to be seen, what message should UK employers be sending to talent right now?

No matter where we live, the environment we operate in is characterised by volatility and uncertainty and there’s no doubt that these features are here to stay. Adding the impact of Brexit to our ever-evolving world of work, it’s clear that those with the right skills will have the most choice when it comes to future job opportunities, and where and how they will work.

As part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, we have been given certainty that EU nationals in the UK will be protected post-Brexit, as will UK nationals in the EU. Nonetheless, there is still more work to be done to ensure the UK remains attractive to skilled talent across Europe. Employers will need to make it clear that they welcome people with the right skills and will help them to navigate the changes ahead, including helping them to remain employable.

We also ought to bear in mind that the factors that motivate workers in the UK aren’t necessarily the same for workers elsewhere in Europe. For example, when making career decisions, our research has found that UK workers consider the type of work to be the most important consideration. However in Poland, compensation is the biggest consideration. Employers should be aware of local candidate preferences, and leverage these insights to ensure they are appealing to the talent they wish to attract.

One of the solutions ManpowerGroup spoke about at the WEF was the importance of skills adjacencies. Why are these so critical?

Skills and access to employment will be the solution to the Skills Revolution. As employers, we need to identify skills adjacencies that create clear career paths from education to employment. We need accelerated reskilling programmes with faster, shorter bursts of on-the-job and experiential training. And we must shift more people from declining industries to growth sectors.

Digital skills and expertise will be essential for almost all workers, from entry-level to leadership. Mapping adjacent skillsets will guide organisations, drive productivity and motivate even the most disillusioned individuals.

Can you share an example with us of what ManpowerGroup is doing to support skills adjacencies? How does this actually work in practice?

There are many examples of what ManpowerGroup is doing to upskill and reskill for growth sector roles. I’d like to share a local example with you.

Automation is changing how work gets done and we must find solutions for workers who are displaced from declining industries. This public-private partnership, led by employers, offers a compelling upskilling solution and is transforming hiring demand and revitalising communities.

In Italy, the world’s most advanced motorsport manufacturers – Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Dallara – were struggling to find enough skilled workers to fabricate the stronger, lighter-weight components used in their high performance cars. Partnering with local technical schools, universities and government, ManpowerGroup’s Experis team developed the Labs and Academy Training Centre to bridge the talent shortage and meet marketplace demand. We deliver training in seven Italian cities that helps upskill and reskill displaced textile workers for in-demand roles in high-end automotive manufacturing and design.

Leveraging a uniquely targeted curriculum, the Experis Lab has retrained hundreds of workers. Scaling across Europe and US in 2017, the programme has placement rates of 70% and increases the earning potential of participants by 30%. This is a formula that can be scaled elsewhere too.

As we navigate the Skills Revolution, what are the implications for today’s leaders?

There’s no doubt that upskilling people, identifying adjacent skills and leading through transformation is top of the agenda for business leaders, politicians and economists alike. Leaders must shift the conversation from ‘will robots steal our jobs?’ to action on how to harness human strengths in a digital world.

In the Skills Revolution, we can and must shape a brighter digital future for everyone, where artificial intelligence and robotics augment what’s humanly possible. This will help to create forward-thinking, successful companies and societies alike.