Tuesday, 16 June 2015

#EconTalent Sir Charlie Mayfield on digital talent challenges

I’m at the Economist’s Talent Management summit, opened by Edward Carr, Deputy Editor of the Economist who suggestsed that AI and robotics will have a transformational although traumatic and disruptive impact on businesses and talent.

The first speaker has been Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis and also of UKCES who developed this theme.  John Lewis have been looking at existing hints in today’s world which may indicate business changes through to 2028.

This has been quite difficult as the technology, and roles and skills people will have then are very difficult to imagine today.  It's therefore very difficult to develop new technology products but once you have one it's very easy to take it to market.  Your firm will also be very high profile as many people will be using the new systems.  But hi tech alone will not play a large part of the required solution to economic and talent challenges eg Facebook only employs around 6,500 people

Also tech commoditises roles eg you can now use a John Lewis coffee machine and produce the same results as baristas in Starbucks.  There's the same shift in advanced manufacturing plants etc.

There is a positive too - tech frees up labour which may be very important given the aging workforce.  But anyone can do these commodity  roles so wages are likely to remain low.  There's a nbig difference between the bullseye and those people around the edges.  So the trajectory we’re on is one of rising inequality.

But there will be new exciting and different jobs emerging between the edge and the bullseye.  Uber and Taskrabbit creating something quite exciting - providing flexibility and opportunity for people to use their skills in different ways.

We'll also see the emergence of greater and greater personalisation.  Eg we'll see more people who can afford it having personalised nutrition plans vs weekly shopping trolleys - formulated individually for them and changing dynamically with their level of health.

One problem of our human characteristics is inertia which hasn’t mattered up to now, but as pace of change quickens, our innate skills and core ability to contribute may become redundant.  Eg men with elementary qualifications are already finding it increasingly difficult to find employment.

We need to work to create a meritocratic society where the workplace is part of a progression of social mobility.

There are three areas where we need a course correction:

1.   The deal around employment - 8 out of 10 people who will be in work in 10 years time are already in work.  By 2025, this may be 9 out of 10.  These people will need to learn more in the next 10 years than they have in the last 20.  We need not just jobs, but learning jobs.  Training and development is millennial’s top demand from employment.  So we need to deal with these people differently.

2.   Training will be delivered via online platforms.  All of John Lewis’ development is now online.  Needs a much more serious focus on development and progression, and more people practices pulling on insights from data and analytics.  For example John Lewis has looked at the last 7 years of pay data.  We need to bring in practices used for customer relationships into employment.

3.   The worlds of work and education need to become more integrated.  Academic qualifications are only losely aligned with the world of work.  And the placit assumption is that they’re all achieved by age 20 and then there’s no more need for learning.  There needs to be a much closer link between education and the more attractive parts of the dart board.  Employers therefore need to collaborate with government to plan the supply side of workforce.  And government needs to be a convener rather than just a deliverer.

We therefore need to focus on what we need to do to move from where we are now to where we need to go - setting the agenda for talent management, and today’s conference.  

More shortly...

Also see my recent post on Digital HR

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