Most, but not all, Australian businesses are ready for ‘digital revolution’

Published on the 26/04/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson

digital workplace_Ajilon survey

Survey suggests some business are short on investment in 4IR workers…

Yet another survey has come out to warn Australia, Inc. that it is coming short even as the Fourth Industrial Revolution happens all around us. This time it is consulting company Ajilon and it said local businesses are not doing enough to empower workers with the skills needed to succeed in this brave new world.

Last week we reported on Microsoft, which said more or less the same thing. Ajilon’s online survey was executed by Galaxy Research in November 2016 among a representative sample of 1,011 Australian workers aged 18-64 years old.

In a statement, Ajilon said its study shows that one in three respondents do not feel prepared to embrace the technological revolution in the workplace (33 percent); another way of saying that, of course, is that two in three DO feel prepared, and surely that is a good thing.

Unless you are a blind troglodyte, it is highly likely that you’d be aware that things are changing, and indeed 97 percent of respondents agreed that it is imperative to be upskilled.

But 68 percent of Australians experience some form of barrier to upskilling in technology and they expect business owners and managers to do something about it, rather than taking their own initiative. Ajilon said this ‘points to the lack of organisational and management support’.

For over a third of respondents, the shortfall in ongoing training and development resources was a key barrier to technological adoption (36 percent). This was followed by the lack of business focus on the importance of technical skills (22 percent). Management must be getting something right, though, because 85 percent of respondents believe their executives understand the importance of embracing technology.

Weirdly, however, Ajilon characterised this finding very differently. It said ‘Worryingly, almost one in five respondents believe their senior management teams do not understand the importance of embracing technology (15 percent)’.

Those who have been around the tech industry for any length of time will know that ‘unprecedented pace of change’ is a phrase which has been around practically since the first commercial computer was switched on. This phrase was arguably only true then, too, because when Univac 1 powered on, it was in fact unprecedented.

Nevertheless: “Driven by robotics, artificial intelligence and automation technologies, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought with it an unprecedented pace of change, disrupting every sector of the global market and transforming the traditional workplace. Now the real question for educators and candidates is ‘what makes me relevant for todays and tomorrows vacancies’,” said Rod Crozier, Ajilon national staffing manager.

He makes a good point about whose responsibility upskilling really is: “To remain relevant, workers must continually upskill themselves.

“Nevertheless, businesses must also play a part by providing the right resources and tools to empower employees with the skills needed to thrive in an era where intelligent robots are rapidly redefining traditional roles,” Crozier added.

Just what those skills should be, however, oughtn’t to be determined by the individual – look instead to what industry requires, rather than setting off to do the BA of your dreams. In any event, 77 percent of Ajilon’s respondents said there is at least one technology skill they are interested in learning more about to better their career prospects, with the three most popular being are data analytics (34 percent), web development (34 percent) and cyber security (31 percent).

“The digital revolution is well underway…workers of all ages must strive to develop their skillset to remain employable,” said Crozier. “While it’s promising to see that Australians are keen on harnessing their technology skills, it is also clear that businesses need to do more to back their workforce.

“Ultimately, by providing the right training with a view of long-term and continuous development, it can go a long way in ensuring Australian workers aren’t left behind by their international counterparts in this increasingly competitive global marketplace,” he concluded.


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