People Development

Preparing for a new world of work

The ever changing pace of change is visible around us and the cycle of change is also becoming shorter and shorter.

The introduction of innovations such as robots, block chain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and many others have people and organisations wondering what the future of work will look like?

In this type of disruptive environment, people and organisations have to constantly adapt, otherwise they will be left behind. For example, the recent introduction of Thyme bank and Bank Zero as well as the imminent launch of Discovery bank in South Africa, has turned the banking sector upside down and many of the traditional banks are looking at how they can reduce their costs with layoffs and retrenchments looming.

Despite these and other innovations, job losses worldwide have been minimal so far but organisations need to ensure that they upskill their employees to meet the needs of the new technological environment. This means, organisations and people need to understand their strengths and weaknesses and look for opportunities to train and upskill rather than resort to layoffs.

There is a myth that people are averse to change. On the contrary, people like change if it benefits them. Leonard Mlodinow in his book “Elastic”, states that many organisations change with names such as restructuring, turn around and strategic shifts whilst employees often see them as something else: layoffs. When change translates to the risk of losing one’s job or an increase in workload, it is understandable if people react negatively. That’s not change aversion, but rather unemployment or negative consequence aversion!

Developing people is good for the individual, for the organisation, for the community and the country. In South Africa, with its seemingly low educational standards in schools, organisations should be encouraged to develop workers in the basics of management and leadership, teamwork, math, finance, innovation and entrepreneurship. This will ensure that people are skilled to embrace this “new world of work.”

To read more about ODI’s National Qualifications and Skills Programmes, click here.

Author: Gerald McKinnon: Director at ODI