Ensuring an Inclusive Future of Work Through Skills Innovation @ Copenhagen
A long title perhaps, but important non the less. I was honoured to be invited to speak at a conference in Copenhagen this month with this as their title. A mixture of representatives from councils, trade, policies, technology, and unions, all joining together for two days to talk about the importance technology, digital and skills needs to play in the Future World of Work.
Why It Matters
Last year I spoke at the UNI World Womens Conference about Future World of Work and it’s problem of scaring people into “technology taking my job” but, if we are in on the conversations of innovations, we can make sure this doesn’t happen and new technology can be people-focused. No amount of Artificial Intelligence will ever be as good as the human brain, emotional intelligence and people skills will always be needed in the digitally changing world.
It just might be that jobs look different, and now is the time to support people to figure out what the future looks like and how it can work for them.
We need to make sure technology is still just the tool we use to make our lives easier, work more productive and reducing unnecessary risks that humans go through in production. At the moment, we seem to be in a flux of people worrying technology is “taking over” – the key is, we need to be part of the conversations at every stage, including innovation and design.
Let’s use technology, not let it use us.
So it was fantastic to be in such a room of passionate people in Copenhagen, that all knew technology is moving forwards and we need to make sure we are on the ride with it, making sure people are at the heart of any new tech innovations.
There is a fine balance for big companies, for example Amazon, where they might make more profits if they reduce their human workforce and “replace” them with robots, but will that make them an ethical company? Will they give-back to the current and future generations? Will they pay their way in society? Will they have a good reputation as employers?
I personally would rather invest in my staff, train, support and nurture relationships with clients, offer a good service and go home at night and sleep well, happy in the knowledge we did good for all involved.
We might use software to speed up our processes, we might use technology to plan our working days, but we at DigiEnable have always had a people-centered approach. So when news breaks about employees being replaced by robots or not given toilet breaks, it really makes me want to get active in whatever way we can to make sure these issues are less in future.
Talking About My Work and Projects
The conference was focused around a partnership project in the Nordics and Balkans region, so no specific UK plans to feed back on, but I did share some info on our UK digital skills statistics (which are currently at 12% for people who have no digital skills), and projects that we’ve been involved with such as the Gender Bias in Job Adverts – where Manchester now sees 16% of gender neutral adverts. I also mentioned to extra barriers that women and minorities groups might face – for example 60% of women returning to work after a career break feel they lack the confidence and digital skills to go back into the job market. I also shared a recent story on someone taking CVs into retail outlets looking for work, only getting told they had to go online to apply for a shop based job – not great if you don’t have those digital skills, so yet another barrier to contend with.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as I said we like getting stuff done, rather than just talking about it.
I also shared our positive outcomes of the BECTU union’s Women Mentoring project and our DigiEnable digital skills training projects, including those we’ve done for Women and LGBT+ groups. One of the big things we’ve learnt that I shared with the conference, was that to learn, you need to support learners with a relaxed and safe environment, and that people are much more likely to learn if they share a group learning experience with others who have something in common with them, be that the 60+ “silver surfers” who are now usually much more digitally literate than most! or other demographic groups, or a common interest like business growth, business skills for promoting their business or types of businesses like arts businesses – some of these we’ve run training for through umbrella organisations.
The big thing I find worrying is the lack of businesses that want to support their staff and workers with their continued learning. We offer in-house training, and it’s usually the smaller stronger people-centred businesses that invest the most. The multi-billion £ companies could learn a lot from these CEOs.
The conference covered lots of interesting topics including…
How to support the “digital change agents”
Examples of business training schemes being run in Denmark and Sweden
Cognitive AI for lifelong learning
The Top Mega-Drivers for Change from ILO
How to Develop and Roadmap
Inspiration Through Prototyping
Open Badges – I thought it had almost disappeared, but apparently they’re back!
And my lovely colleague Trond shared the session with me and talked about skills mapping and profile mapping to help with future job matching, along with sharing how the Norway model works where you are able to take upto 3 years unpaid leave for training or education – what a win!
Some of the things that I heard that have got me thinking about action on are…
Lifelong learning -> continuous learning as a name change
Internationally SMEs is SMBs
Peer appraisals, positive remarks on post it notes for colleagues – not just about kpis! Interpersonal and problem-solving skills will be even more important
Technologist will be the new key roles
Industry 4.0 – term only invented 4 years ago!
Different types of skills needed – not just “digital” and “basic”
What micro-actions can we do to start these?
*”change making” – what does that mean?
Further Reading Links