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Disruptive technologies are transforming the world of work, as multinationals and indigenous firms alike seeking ways to gain a competitive advantage, with many roles becoming outdated in this new age of automation.

Workforce shaping is about aligning company business and human resources needs to ensure that employees with the right skill-sets are in the right place at the right time. The convergence of artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and cognitive platforms is forcing organisations in every industry to explore and understand the advancing integration of humans and machines in the workplace. Cian Kelliher, KPMG Head of Consulting in Munster, sees workforce shaping as a key challenge for the FDI sector in driving business growth and creating a high-performance workforce. “Workforce shaping is being centred on taking a scenario-based approach to defining the required workforce within a 5 to 8-year time frame. It is this combination of understanding how digital disruption and AI will change the overall shape, size, composition, and skills in the workforce and how humans and machines will work together to drive business value and a high-performing workforce.”

It is estimated that 65% of our jobs will not exist or will be done in totally new ways within 10 years.

Cian Kelliher, KPMG Head of Consulting in Munster

Preparing for a fourth industrial revolution

The impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution - the term used to describe the convergence of AI, Robotic Process Automation, Machine Learning and Cognitive Platforms - is forcing all industries, including the FDI sector, to shape their workforces to consist of all worker types, including permanent, gig, contingent and machine. In the vernacular: ‘buy, build, borrow, and bot.’ This revolution has irreversibly altered the genetic make-up of the modern workforce. “It is estimated that 65% of our jobs will not exist or will be done in totally new ways within 10 years, and the FDI sector will not be any different and must look to adapt accordingly to take advantage of the key business growth opportunities these challenges persist,” Cian underlines. “There is consensus amongst FDI leadership that preparing the workforce for AI and related technologies will be the biggest challenge for their organisations. Yet, while most are prioritising efforts around how to identify the future workforce composition, some may still be uncertain about the best approach to do that.” In KPMG Ireland’s CEO Outlook 2019 report, 38% of Irish CEO’s are planning upskilling half of their workforce while 62% plan to invest in new technologies.  

Shaping up for the future

KPMG have set out several questions to help FDI leaders evolve their understanding of their current standing and needs in the area:

  • How should we reskill employees to enable them with the competencies they’ll need in the future? 
  • Which skills & capabilities will be most valuable as machines begin to take over portions of traditional work? 
  • How should we integrate contingent workers with permanent employees?
  • How can we redesign job profiles to attract and retain future talent?
  • What is the impact of automation on the customer experience and the employee experience?
  • How will automation change career pathing and career progression? 
  • How can we profit from these new opportunities while ensuring the well-being of employees?

These are the types of questions executive leaders and board members should be engaged in trying to solve right now to ensure they are ready for the future of work.

Organisation behaviours

To address these challenges, Cian outlines several key organisational behaviours which will enable FDI’s embrace the opportunities presented by workforce shaping.

  1. Devoting time and resources to workforce shaping as an entirely new discipline capable of responding to continuing disruption. The world of work is changing and requires a new mindset and actions.
  2. Workforce shaping starts from future business scenarios and ‘works back.’ Traditional workforce planning misses the enormous levels of disruption and potential productivity gains driven by AI.
  3. Up-skilling goes hand in hand with workforce shaping, ensuring they have the right capabilities to work in the future-state environment. 
  4. Maximising the success of workforce shaping through collaboration with C-suite leadership, as they should be the ultimate owners of the outcomes and the actions arising.
  5. Establishing regular refresh scenarios to focus a vision of what the organisation and workforce could look like and be capable of achieving in the future.

Cian anticipates “The FDI organisations who demonstrate agility and pace in embedding these behaviours will be the ones who will emerge best equipped to meet challenges of increasing competitive and volatile global markets over the next decade. The window to embrace this transformational shift is now and the respective pivot towards optimal workforce shaping is going to be key a differentiator for growth in the Irish FDI sector going forward.”

This article originally appeared in The Examiner and is reproduced here with their kind permission.

Cian Kelliher

Cian Kelliher

KPMG in Ireland
+353 21 602 5515

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