Digital revolution requires a skills revolution: PwC

Technology is accelerating change across society in every corner of the globe and people need the skills to adapt. This is one of the defining issues of the generation and a solution is required. It can be done by educators, governments and businesses leading the society on an upskilling journey.

As part of a global study conducted by PwC of more than 22,000 adults across 11 countries, PwC Middle East asked 2,000 adults in the GCC to share their hopes and fears, the findings come from the new research and build on PwC’s economic analysis on the impact of automation on jobs.

While 75 per cent of workers surveyed in the GCC believe automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years (vs. 53 per cent globally), the majority, 82 per cent (61 per cent global) were positive about the impact of technology on their day-to-day work. But only 23 per cent are learning new skills through their employer to better understand or use technology (33 per cent global).

Meanwhile, at least half believe that automation presents more opportunities than risks. They believe that automation will improve their job prospects and enable them to achieve digital proficiency or become an expert.

Men are more likely than women to think that technology will have a positive impact on their jobs and improve their employment prospects. They are also more likely to be learning new skills 74 per cent of the men (80 per cent global) surveyed say they are doing so versus 66 per cent of women (74 per cent global).

However, opportunities and attitudes vary significantly based on an individual’s level of education. Location, gender and age also play a part.

Organisations need a new approach; they should create the right mix of skilled and adaptable people, aligned to the right culture and with the right mindset and behaviours to power their business, says PwC.

Hani Ashkar, Middle East Senior Partner, says: “Our jobs are changing, and fast. Many roles are disappearing altogether, with new, more meaningful roles taking their place. Our survey found that workers know that change is coming, they understand the need to upskill, and they are excited about the impact technology will have on their careers.

As a firm, we have committed US$3 billion to upskill our own people over the next four years. And we are already seeing tremendous change. Upskilling is more than just training. It’s about gaining the knowledge, skills and experience to add value and insight, being equipped to participate and adapt in an increasingly digital world.”

Randa Bahsoun, Partner and New world, New skills, Middle East lead ends: “Last year, [in our 22nd Middle East CEO Survey], we found out that the region is indeed anxious when it comes to the availability of “new”skills. In fact, our survey told us that almost 70 per cent of CEOs in the region regard the availability of key skills as a business threat.

“With the rapid pace of change and technological advancement we are witnessing, it has become all too clear that the digital revolution requires a skills revolution. The skills revolution is about helping people build their digital awareness, understanding and skills to fully participate in the digital world — and it needs to start now.”