The automation of work will not stop the High-skilled

At the meeting in Milan, ManpowerGroup’s Ceo Jonas Prising illustrates how to deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The automation of work will not stop the High-skilled

If the automation of work raises concerns, we need to turn this preoccupation into the starting point of a path aimed at enhancing the skills of the future professionals. This is the strategy recommended by Jonas Prising, the CEO of the ManpowerGroup, during the roundtable “Skills Revolution: it’s time to develop future talent” (in the highlight photo), held at the Milan headquarters on the 5th of April.

Prising was flanked by Mara Swan, Executive vice-president, and Stefano Scabbio, president of Mediterranean and Eastern Europe at the ManpowerGroup, discussing the issue of digitization. The main argument was future employment and the challenges that organizations and employees will have to face to survive the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Jonas Prising, Ceo ManpowerGroup

Jonas Prising, Ceo ManpowerGroup

High-skilled against Un-skilled, technology only rescues the former
«We are presently at a juncture – explains Prising – digital technology will have a significant impact on future employment. As a consequence of the introduction of robots in the market, we are going to lose the jobs that don’t require high skills. The only alternative is to nurture ourselves and train specialised figures». To do so, it is crucial to build a network connecting teachers and trainers with employers.

Schools and Universities have to quickly re-establish a relationship with , providing them with trained young people ready to access the job market. It is a difficult task, especially if we consider that, broadly speaking, the effects of school reforms can be seen about forty years later. And we should also consider that, as the CEO of the ManpowerGroup says, the education system is far behind.

In many countries education
is stuck at the first
industrial revolution

There is a general lack of policies – he carries on – and where there is no supply in the public sector, inequality emerges. Many generations were given an education of uneven quality; I consider, for instance, the private schools in the United States that outclass the public ones».

According to Prising, the people’s main ambition should be to keep themselves competitive, even by filling potential gaps. «If an organization, a country or a single person aim at being competitive in the international market, the skill set must be impeccable and they should keep updating because we have to face extremely fast changes».

manpower-2The Millennials between flexibility and hope for stability
A separate argument should be devoted to the Millennials, a digital-born generation which find itself in a complex job market. «They will never see their pension, they are willing to change job several times and they don’t have the expectations of a fixed job – says Prising – however, from our surveys, we know that they aim at the same stability achieved by their parents. And they can only achieve that by engaging themselves on employability».

What can we do to support them? According to Prising, besides politicians it is down to organizations’ leaders to act in order to foster a generation turnover. This is an emergency particularly relevant to Italy, underlines Stefano Scabbio, where we need to run for cover. «If we look at the ranking in Europe, we are among the latter countries in the list as regards digitization, retirement age and school/company cooperation. For this reason, in the automotive sector, we collaborate with institutions and we launched the program Power U Digital to improve young people’s skills. Once employed by a company, they will teach their senior colleagues». This is a costless way to achieve up-skilling (the improvement of existing skills) and re-skilling (the revamping of workers’ skills).

Women are still in difficulty
In an automated job market, besides the un-skilled, another category risking being discriminated is that of women employees. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016, there are two factors having an impact on female impasse: pay inequity and the lower participation of women in the job market. Mara Swan, Executive Vice-president at the ManpowerGroup, in fact, stressed the gender issue during the meeting and advocated the need for out-of-the-ordinary measures to tackle inequality within organizations.

«The gender gap is not over and there are still few women in the top positions within organizations – she says – this is a cultural issue, requiring a mind-set shift». She suggests a way to overturn the traditional situation: «Instead of asking ourselves why should we give responsibilities to a woman, we should wonder why not doing it». CEOs, managers and leaders should be the first to wonder about this because – according to Swan – a cultural revolution starts from good examples.

(Translation by Cecilia Braghin)


Diana Cavalcoli

Diana Cavalcoli Laureata in Lettere, si specializza in Cultura e storia del sistema editoriale all’Università degli studi di Milano. Frequenta il Master in giornalismo Walter Tobagi ed è iscritta all’Ordine dei Giornalisti dal 2015. Ha lavorato per Adnkronos a Milano e attualmente scrive per il Corriere della Sera occupandosi di lavoro, startup e innovazione