Retraining: Business pros and medical workers take DIY approach to get ready for automation

Survey finds that many employees are blazing their own trail instead of waiting for employers to offer skills development.

2020: Employees should be learning in the flow of work, not from A to Z

Many employees are taking a do-it-yourself approach to prepare for a work world that includes automation and artificial intelligence, according to a new survey by CGS about on-the-job training.

The workers who are the most confident in job skills (38%) are also the ones taking the initiative to seek training and refine their skills on their own. The survey found that 48% of business professionals, 46% of medical workers, and 21% of sales and retail workers are seeking training, instead of waiting for employers to offer retraining programs.

CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers about their views on the value of college, skills confidence, changing job roles, employer-led education and how they are being trained for new technologies, including AI. 

SEE: An IT pro's guide to robotic process automation (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The CGS survey found that 61% of employees are aware of or ready for AI and automation. 

Their views on the value of college, the fluid nature of job roles, and the need for life-long learning has a strong correlation to how confident they are about adapting to new tech in the workplace, the survey found.

AI attitudes linked to education level

As new technologies become part of the daily work routine, corporate leaders must help employees adjust to this digital transformation, the survey found.

Because a person's level of education affects his or her perception of AI and automation, retraining efforts should take into account that employees of different backgrounds will feel differently about new technologies.
The CGS survey found that 65% of workers with a bachelor's degree or higher have a positive view of AI and automation, and 32% feel these technologies will not affect their jobs at all. 

For workers without a college degree, 39% are concerned that this technology could replace their jobs. Organizations will need to explain how these new technologies will change job responsibilities, not replace a role entirely.

Digital transformation must include changing skills needs and workers' expectations of on-the-job training and development, according to Doug Stephen, president of the learning division at CGS. 

"Companies must also ensure they are helping workers become comfortable with learning to learn and emerging technologies," he said.

National retraining projects

At CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, talked with Ivanka Trump about the need to retrain employees.

Trump is the co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker along with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the director of the Domestic Policy Council Joseph Grogan. Many CTA members have pledged to provide retraining opportunities, including apprenticeships.

"We have gotten over 400 companies to commit to over 14 million training and reskilling opportunities for their current workforce: upskilling, reskilling, enhanced education opportunities and for the future workers," she said.

Trump said that the goal is to define work based on skills rather than credentials such as a college degree.

"If you're a mid- to late-career worker, it is likely today that you may need to be reskilled multiple times in your career and you're not going to go back to the college to do it," she said.

CGS provides business applications, enterprise training, and outsourcing services. Stephen's division builds training programs that use AI, AR/VR, machine learning and gamification.

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Many employees are taking a do-it-yourself approach to prepare for automation and artificial intelligence, according to a new survey by CGS about on-the-job training.

Image: CGS