Skills Gap the Focus of IBM Study

Julija A. Image
ByJulija A.
September 09, 2019

It would appear that machines are slowly replacing human workers.

Technologies such as AI and intelligent automation are likely to require the retraining of more than 120 million workers in the world’s 12 biggest economies over the next three years. That’s the forecast from IBM and the Institute for Business Value, which surveyed 5,670 executives in 48 countries.

The study scrutinizes a skill gap that has become a big issue in the business world. IBM reports that only 41% of CEOs say they have enough resources, skills, and people to pull off the business strategies they need to run their companies successfully. IBM concludes that a fundamental shift is needed if employers want to manage changing workforce needs through all levels of the enterprise.

The time it takes to close a skill gap in a company has increased more than 10 times in the past four years, IBM says. It took three days of training, on average, to close a capability gap in 2014, the company says. It took 36 days in 2018.

Many skills are becoming obsolete in the face of modern technology, but new skill requirements are quickly emerging to replace them. In 2016, employers identified technical core capabilities for STEM and computer software skills as the most important qualifications for employees. In 2018, the most important skills were completely different: willingness to be flexible and adaptable to change, and time management skills. Companies seem to seek behavioral skills.

"Organizations are facing mounting concerns over the widening skills gap and tightened labor markets with the potential to impact their futures as well as worldwide economies," said Amy Wright, managing partner at IBM. "Yet while executives recognize the severity of the problem, half of those surveyed admit that they do not have any skills-development strategies in place to address the largest gaps. And the tactics the study found were most likely to close the skills gap the fastest are the tactics companies are using the least. New strategies are emerging to help companies reskill their people and build the culture of continuous learning required to succeed in the era of AI."

The study, “The Enterprise Guide to Closing the Skill Gap,” provides strategies for companies who want to close the skills gap.

The main recommendation is to close the skills gap by training the existence workforce, letting workers learn in a multi-modal, personalized way. Educational programs play a big role for employees and can help them meet not only current employer requirements but provide a path to career aspirations as well. Companies can extend staff members’ access to content and innovative learning technologies, and even share skilled workers with business partners across organizational boundaries.

The study also shows that AI analytics can help companies identify which skills are available throughout the organization. IBM suggests that employers share this information with their workers to drive a culture of learning and give people the opportunity to improve themselves - just as IBM does internally.

Applying these strategies can help employers close the skills gap driven by new technologies, helping workers partner up with intelligent machines for better results.

IBM is collaborating with Josh Bersin Academy in an attempt to point out the critical role HR plays in supporting the cooperation of human employees and machines. The academy will soon launch a program called HR in the Age of AI. The program will focus on how HR teams can use AI to aid individual skill development.

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Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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