Planning for a New World of Work

Oct 22nd, 2019

We are currently witnessing the nature of employment being redefined in Ireland and across the world. The Future Works, Skillnet Ireland’s inaugural Summit highlighted the dramatic impact disruptive technology is having on the world of work and workforce development. Business leaders and policymakers from across the country gathered to hear about the key factors shaping Ireland’s workforce and learn how they can prepare their teams for the future world of work.


Disrupting the World of Work

The rise of the gig economy, artificial intelligence (AI), portfolio careers and virtual and remote working, are disrupting the world of work as it has been known for the past century. Despite this disruption, the evidence base is pointing to a positive net outcome for jobs, provided the necessary steps are taken to prepare. Artificial Intelligence will affect how people work and the jobs they do. Automation is increasing and efficiency is improving. Yes, some jobs will be lost, some jobs will dramatically change but other jobs will be created.


Leveraging AI

In ever-increasing demand are the skills and competencies that humans are uniquely good at; creativity, curiosity, collaboration, empathy, leadership, commercial awareness, coaching, mentoring and entrepreneurialism – high touch skills. AI is core to rethinking and redesigning the skills and behaviours needed for each role to get the best combination of high tech and high touch skills. The removal of the more mundane and routine tasks presents business with an opportunity to focus on solving complex problems or coming up with new creative innovations.

The organisations getting the most return for their investment in AI are focused on exploring how AI can help their employees be more productive and how they can leverage AI to deliver brand new products, services and innovations. Almost every role in complex businesses will be changing to regularly interact with some form of AI.

Clare Dillon, Technology Evangelist

While the nature of work is being redefined, new operating models are needed for businesses to evolve and new ways to train and upskill people must be designed. This is especially pertinent when viewed in the context of no more ‘jobs for life’ and the rise of portfolio careers and the gig economy. The workplace must adapt to the new ways of working and employees must be helped on the path of reskilling and career development.


The Digital Transformation

One industry that is already actively engaged in digital transformation is the Consumer Experience (Cx) industry as highlighted through the ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet 2019 report ‘The Future of Work Now.’ Due to the digital transformation and increased automation, Cx professionals are moving away from high-volume, single-service transactions and towards the majority of their work being more complex, value add customer solutions. What is defined as the 80:20 flip towards more complex roles, presents challenges for these employers in how work is designed and in providing upskilling opportunities for both Cx teams and managers. This study has led to the design of innovative programmes and learning interventions to support this transition.

Workforce planning is about having the right people, in the right place, at the right time. All organisations need a robust people strategy aligned to the organisational strategy which has workforce development at its core. This culture shift must be driven from the top down to identify what skills are needed in their organisation now and in the future.

The Jobs of the Future

While the onus to drive a culture change must come from senior management, more and more the responsibility to learn and to upskill needs to be taken up by all. Key to this is providing the opportunities for the workforce to acquire new skills, enhance their own career prospects and increase their value to their organisations.

Many of the jobs the primary school children of today will undertake in the future have not been invented yet. While no one can predict what these jobs will be, it can be said with some certainty the skills that will be needed; a combination of these high touch and digital skills. Organisations must plan for what people and skills they will need going forward and institute a culture of change, continuous improvement and an innovative mindset. At the same time, everyone needs to ensure that they have the right skills that will make them an asset in this new work world. Through all these changes Skillnet Ireland will be here to support business with innovative workforce development.


Find out more

Skillnet Ireland supports a future-focused economy and are committed to assisting businesses with their evolving learning and upskilling needs. We have a number of expert-led research reports on our publications page that will provide your business with insights to help future-proof your business.



By Skillnet Ireland Policy and Research Advisor Cathal McSweeney

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