L&D’s Future-Ready Options for AI in Knowledge Work
17 October, 2023
Reading Time: 5 mins
While AI is not a novel concept, its capabilities have significantly evolved over the past decade. Today, AI-powered machines can perform tasks on par with human abilities. This has the potential to enhance operational efficiency and boost financial gains.
Applications such as ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, Stable Diffusion, and others have sparked widespread interest, surpassing even AlphaGo. They are versatile, engaging, and can handle tasks like data organization. However, what sets them apart is their capacity to create text, music, and digital art, driving experimentation and drawing people from diverse backgrounds into discussions about the broader implications of generative AI.
But we must grapple with the profound questions it raises about its influence on knowledge workers, professional services, and the evolving workforce. As AI automates certain knowledge work tasks, those who struggle to integrate AI into their work processes may face stagnated career growth.
It raises questions about how to ensure business continuity and mitigate upcoming skill gaps. One strategy that many organizations are adopting is to grow their contingent workforce.
Three Factors for the Growing Contingent Workforce
Contingent workforce programs are, essentially, strategies for managing temporary staff. Executives are turning to contingent workers to optimize cost savings, accelerate processes, and secure top-tier talent. Here are 3 factors compelling executives to shift their focus toward temporary workers:
To Meet Economic Uncertainty
In light of potential economic downturns, companies are strategically focusing on cost-saving and workforce flexibility. Many invest heavily in temporary staffing, offering an opportunity for more astute management.
Find Top Talent for Specialized Roles
Many contingent workers possess highly specialized skills. By prioritizing them, companies can access this expertise without the need for extensive in-house training or permanent hires. Temporary roles provide a great proving ground for candidates before permanent hiring, especially for specialized fields like IT, healthcare, engineering, and finance. Such skilled roles are seeing substantial investment, demonstrating that temporary staffing is slowly evolving into an integral strategy for businesses.
Workforce Classification and Compliance
The ongoing shift towards hybrid and remote work and geographical business expansion raises concerns about the correct classification of workers. Many companies are seeking third-party services to ensure compliance and meet data regulation rules, a growing priority for executives to safeguard the company’s growth.
Upskilling Knowledge Workers Vs. Onboarding Contingent Workers
Financially, while contingent workers may appear cost-effective in the short term, the cumulative expenses related to recruitment, onboarding, and ongoing management of these temporary staff can be substantial. Conversely, upskilled knowledge workers tend to exhibit increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall performance, offering a long-term return on investment.
In an era marked by relentless technological advancements and competitive global markets, companies that prioritize the upskilling of their knowledge workers secure a sustainable advantage. They not only safeguard their competitive edge but also demonstrate a profound commitment to the future success and resilience of their organization.
How to Prepare Knowledge Workers for the Age of AI
Learning and Development (L&D) leaders can implement a variety of training methods and strategies to upskill knowledge workers and help protect them from the impact of AI and automation. They must create a supportive learning environment where employees feel encouraged to adapt to evolving technology trends.
Here are a few workforce training methods that can help cultivate new competencies.
1. Lifelong Learning Programs
Build a culture of continuous learning within the organization. Encourage employees to regularly update their skills and stay current with industry trends. Online courses, webinars, and access to educational resources can be part of these programs. These training programs can be guided and personalized using AI.
2. Special AI and Automation Training
Explain the anticipated skill gaps and offer specific training on AI and automation technologies. It can include understanding how these technologies work, their impact on the industry, and how to work alongside or manage automated systems. Ensure that employees understand the ethical implications of AI and automation and how to use these technologies responsibly. Meanwhile, focus on developing their soft skills since these are less susceptible to automation and are valuable in knowledge work.
3. Reskilling and Cross-Training
Identify the most at-risk job roles and develop reskilling programs for these employees. This could include training in AI-related fields, data analysis, or other relevant areas. Encourage employees to diversify their skills by learning tasks and responsibilities outside their primary role. This broadens their skillset and increases their value to the organization.
4. Mentorship and Peer Learning
Pair employees with mentors who can provide guidance and share their experiences to help knowledge workers adapt. Create opportunities for employees to learn from each other. This can include knowledge-sharing sessions, group projects, or collaborative problem-solving.
5. Digital Ecosystems for L&D
Provide access to online courses, platforms, and resources that allow employees to acquire new knowledge and skills at their own pace. Use simulations and real-world scenarios to allow employees to practice the skills they’ve learned in a safe environment. Use AI-based Learning Assistants to guide employees through training, provide real-time feedback, and create practice environments.
6. Certifications and Accreditation
Conduct regular assessments of employees’ skills and provide constructive feedback to help them understand their progress and identify areas for improvement. Encourage them to pursue certifications and accreditations that are relevant to their field. This can help validate their expertise and demonstrate their commitment to professional development.
What Does the Future Hold?
While contingent workers undeniably offer flexibility and short-term solutions for many businesses, companies should weigh the long-term advantages of upskilling knowledge workers. Contingent workers can provide temporary expertise or manage fluctuating workloads, but when it comes to sustaining long-term business success, investing in the continuous development of knowledge workers becomes an imperative strategy.
The decision to upskill knowledge workers rather than rely heavily on hiring contingent workers represents a strategic and forward-thinking approach. By choosing to upskill their existing workforce, companies nurture a foundation of skills, expertise, and institutional knowledge that goes beyond the capabilities of contingent workers. Knowledge workers who are committed to lifelong learning and skill enhancement are not only equipped to adapt to technological advancements but can also drive innovation within the organization.
Looking to upskill your team with future-ready skills? Speak to our workforce edtech experts at www.magicedtech.com.