UPSKILLING EMPLOYEES BECOMES MORE CRITICAL AS WORK AUTOMATION AND AI ADVANCE, NEW I4CP STUDY FINDS

Despite the reality that AI and automation are disrupting almost every industry, many organizations are unprepared to address the growing employee skill gaps caused by new ways of doing work.

The Institute for Corporate Productivity’s (i4cp) newly released study, Automating Work: The Human/AI Intersection, gathered data from over 1,700 respondents—over 400 of whom represented organizations that employ more than 10,000 employees—to discover the current impact of automation and AI in the workplace and the challenges organizations face.

The study features case studies and insights from leaders of global organizations including Citi, Walmart, Toyota North America, Pitney Bowes, IBM, and others. 

Conducted in partnership with Professor John Boudreau of the USC Marshall School for Business and co-author of Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work, the study found that 19% of global organizations regularly use advanced work automation— such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Thirty percent of global organizations are only in the experimental stage of such implementations.

While expectations around job losses are often overstated, in contrast, the rising skill shortages are perhaps understated. A significant number of study participants said that advanced work automation will more often augment human capabilities or transform roles rather than act as a substitute for workers, including for entry-level positions. Despite this:

  • Less than half of high-performance organizations reported taking actions beyond assessing capability gaps and identifying future skills.
  • Among all organizations, less than one in three are identifying upskilling or reskilling pathways for talent whose work is being reinvented by automation.
  • Only 16% of organizations have focused on upskilling/reskilling programs to close the capability gap, though high-performance organizations are 2x more likely to do so than lower performers.

“If the organization has not done a thorough talent mapping exercise, including deconstructing and reinventing the work, they may have only a vague sense of necessary future skillsets and the gaps between those and current workforce capabilities,” said Thomas Stone, i4cp senior research analyst and study author. “When training is budget and time constrained, organizations may not move quickly enough to organize effective formal upskilling or reskilling programs.”

In addition to exploring the impact of advanced work automation on employees and the ways organizations operate, the study also identifies other critical challenges—including the ability to maintain employee motivation in the face of major change and HR’s readiness to lead through the changes driven by these new technologies. 

Automating Work: The Human/AI Intersection is available exclusively to i4cp member organizations at i4cp.com. 

An executive brief that summarizes the key findings and other insights is also available.