Workers Believe Personal Skills Will Remain in Demand Despite Automation

Almost three quarters (74%) of people surveyed by PwC are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable, seeing it as their personal responsibility and not employers, to keep their skills updated.

The findings are from PwC’s latest report, Workforce of The Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030, which includes finding from a survey of 10,000 people across the UK, Germany, China, India and the US. Their views reinforce a shift to continuous learning while earning, so employees can keep up with technology’s impact on jobs and the workplace.

The report examines four worlds of work in 2030, to show how competing forces, including automation, are shaping the workforces of the future. Each scenario has huge implications for the world of work, which cannot be ignored by governments, organizations or individuals.

The majority of respondents believe technology will improve their job prospects (65%) although workers in the US (73%) and India (88%) are more confident, than those in the UK (40%) and Germany (48%).
Overall, nearly three quarters believe technology will never replace the human mind (73%) and the majority (86%) say human skills will always be in demand.

“The reality of life-long learning is biting amongst today’s workforce – no matter what age you are,” says Carol Stubbings, partner and joint global leader for People and Organization at PwC. “The report found that 60% of respondents believe few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future. People are shifting from a qualification that would last a lifetime to thinking about new skills every few years, matched with ongoing development of personal skills such as risk management, leadership and emotional intelligence.”

While respondents to the survey were positive about the impact of technology, with 37% excited about the future world of work and seeing a world full of possibilities, there is still concern that automation is putting some jobs at risk.

Overall, 37% of respondents believe automation is putting their job at risk, up from 33% in 2014. And over half (56%) think governments should take action needed to protect jobs from automation.

“Anxiety kills confidence and the willingness to innovate,” comments Jon Williams, partner and joint global leader for People and Organization at PwC.

“With a third of workers worried about the future of their jobs due to automation, employers need to be having mature conversations now, to include workers in the technology debate. This will help them to understand, prepare and potentially upskill for any impact technology may have on their job in the future. The shift is nothing less than a fundamental transformation in the way we work, and organizations must not underestimate the change ahead.”