Forbes estimates that by 2030 the global skills shortage will be 85 million people. The cost to the worldwide economy is unrealised revenue of $8 trillion.
The skills shortages impacts all industries; retail and hospitality are the most obvious. From a technology and business services perspective, anyone that has seen the demand for cloud skills knows that the shortage, particularly from professional or mouldable skills, is more extensive than ever. It is accelerating; skills shortages will worsen before it gets better.
COVID has unsurprisingly impacted this, particularly by locking prospective employees to their city or country. The remote working boom that has been so successful and dominant in COVID is not enough; skill shortages exist regardless of how flexible employers are regarding workforce location.
The “Great Resignation” compounds things, particularly as people leave their industry entirely. That is more likely in areas like Healthcare and Education than technology due to the impacts of COVID and other factors (wages and conditions).
For the past 20 or so years, I have firmly pushed automation. It has significantly accelerated in recent years both through RPA and, as sometimes we need to be reminded, technology does get better, faster and more effective. I have come to realise that whilst there have been tremendous gains and significant improvements are ahead in the future for automation; it will simply not be enough in key technology areas.
The most unmistakable shortfall of both skills and automation will be cloud-based technology and applications. The growth in most markets is orders of magnitude greater than universities, and other education facilities can turn out (as an aside, the quality and suitability of academic institutions is a whole issue for another time).
We have to prepare for shortfalls in business outcomes because of the shortage. Humans will get more efficient, and automation or “robots” will become even more efficient, but both vendors and buyers have to be prepared for the realisation that it is not going to be enough.
Hard choices will have to be made.
- What projects fall by the wayside?
- Can solution and platform providers accelerate enough to meet clients’ requirements?
- What is the most optimum workforce location approach?
- How to prioritise training without the shortsighted fear that resources will train up and leave (an idea – give employees conditions that suit them, not you)
Labour shortages are with us despite, or in some cases, due to the rise of the machines. How you respond to labour shortages will determine how much of the $8 Trillion in lost revenue is from your firm. These issues are real, and it will take a profoundly integrated effort to avoid a significant impact on your enterprise. Like sustainability, there will be an impact. You and your firm decide what the severity of that impact will be. Finally, don’t put this off. We know kicking cans along the road catches up with any and everyone eventually. Act now, and be able to drive the solution to skills and automation. The alternative is just too dangerous.