Workplace disruption is here, so why aren’t we acting on it?
When an organisation wants to know who it should hire in three years’ time, where do they turn? When they want to invest in retraining, how do they know what skills to invest in? When an employee wants to know if their role will become redundant through technological disruption, where does their research start? When government needs data on national upheavals in the mining, education or financial sectors, where is it housed?
There are two answers: everywhere and nowhere.
The result is that while we are drowning in a sea of noise about the ‘future of work’, real solutions to actual workplace questions are thin on the ground. In a series of 34 executive conversations and over 2000 survey interviews with employers and workers across Australia and New Zealand’s largest organisations, EY found that change at the organisational level is accelerating through investment in AI, blockchain and machine learning.
In stark contrast, complacency or confusion pervades both upper levels of business and government as well as the broader workforce. The impact is real. Because we have no centralised repository for data on a changing workforce, we have no economy-wide view of the roles that will thrive, those that will change and those that will become redundant.
It means that learning and development (L&D) programs still focus on the roles of today and yesterday – not tomorrow. In the face of task and role redundancy, our research has found that the cost of misplaced L&D spend by organisations in Australia is around A$4 billion from a total estimated L&D of $12 billion. In New Zealand, the equivalent numbers are NZ$0.25 billion misdirected from a total estimated investment of NZ$1.5 billion.
At the centre of our findings is the realisation that the current approach to skilling people is not meeting rapidly changing current needs and is certainly not future fit. It’s clear we need to move the needle from talking to doing. In an increasingly uncertain economic climate, with job security and unemployment looking ever shakier, the challenges will only grow.