The rise of automation won’t significantly diminish jobs in the U.S., and the country will “double down” on retraining efforts to help workers who have been displaced by robots, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said this week at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

 

“Technology doesn’t just shrink jobs,” Ross told reporters. “It changes the nature of jobs.”

 

In a similar vein, the news at WEF I found most interesting is that Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Infosys, Pegasystems,  PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services announced a joint mission to “reskill” a million workers worldwide over the next three years.

 

“All over the world, people are asking themselves how they are going to prepare for their future, whether it’s a new job, new responsibilities or needed new skills,” Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC International, PwC, said in a statement. “By working together across the public and private sectors, our hope is to enable new opportunities for people to carve their own paths, develop new skills and future-proof themselves.”

 

The joint project is part of WEF’s IT Industry Skills Initiative to meet the global skills gap challenge and address job displacement arising from automation and the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. The goal is to provide one million people with resources and training opportunities on the SkillSETportal by January 2021.

 

The initiative comes at an opportune time, because, according to a WEF report on workforce reskilling, one in four adults have reported a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills they need for their current job. Therefore, enabling and empowering workers to transform and update their skills is a key concern for businesses and societies around the world.

 

“In our dynamic world, technology has opened up many avenues for growth, however, we’re also seeing how innovations such as artificial intelligence and automation can impact the workforce,” Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco, and Chair of the Forum’s IT Governors community, said at the conference. “It’s important for all of us to recognize that without the talent we need, none of us would be successful. This initiative brings together the capabilities and strengths of all of our companies to help educate the high-skilled workers needed for jobs now and into the future. It’s our obligation to make sure that people with jobs across every industry are given the means to learn new skills and remain competitive.”

 

Essentially, the coalition created a free platform of online tools to streamline the process of reskilling. To address fast-changing skill requirements, initiative partner companies are providing key elements of their individual training libraries for one centralized portal. Consequently, users will have free access to current self-paced training materials from global IT companies—ranging from general business skills to introductory digital literacy, and including more advanced subjects such as cybersecurity, big data or Internet of Things. The portal will offer a tailored Skills Assessment, developed by PwC and based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills research, to help users determine which coursework and/or learning pathways best fit their current skillset and learning goals, the coalition reports.

 

“People need innovative ways to learn new skills to remain relevant and adaptive as the pace of technology change accelerates,” Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accenture, said in a statement. “For example, AI offers enormous opportunities for growth, but success will increasingly depend on humans collaborating with intelligent technologies. By accessing a broad range of ‘new skilling’ techniques, people will be better placed to work with machines and help businesses pivot to new growth models.”

 

What are your thoughts on reskilling? Do you believe there is a mismatch between your skillset and the skills needed for your job? Also, would you use an online portal to access training libraries?