Reimagining work and pivoting your workforce are steps one and two in creating the workforce of the future—enabling the integration between artificial intelligence (AI) and human capabilities and supporting applied intelligence. I explained how to reimagine work in post two of this series, and how to pivot your workforce in post three. In this post, I’ll explain the final step: reskilling your workforce to make the most of applied intelligence.

The critical and overarching skill-based need in the future workforce is for humans to be able to work effectively with intelligent machines in ways that drive new business opportunities and support growth. The need for speed in developing these capabilities amplifies this strategic imperative.

Applying a flexible, customised, and accelerated approach to training

Work will be different in the applied intelligence environment—which is fast approaching. There will be both new and reconfigured jobs. Employees will be required to reskill quickly. Financial services firms must develop rapid, flexible, tailored, and large-scale approaches to understanding the skills they have today and offering the required training if they’re going to make the most of what humans and machines can accomplish together.

In Accenture’s Workforce of the Future report for the insurance industry, nearly half of insurance executives surveyed said they believe skill shortages are the biggest factor influencing their workforce strategy. And yet, only three percent of their organisations are planning a significant increase in training investment over the next three years.

Accenture was faced with a similar challenge in having to pivot more than 160,000 employees to new roles with new skills within a two-year period. Out of this effort, the company has developed a “new skilling” framework that financial services firms can leverage in preparing their employees to take on new roles and responsibilities in the applied intelligence environment. By innovating its training methods, Accenture was able to lower hourly training costs by 25 percent while increasing the number of hours trained by 40 percent.

The new skilling framework

Accenture’s new skilling programme moves employees along a continuum from awareness to conversant to job-ready to expert, based on the following four steps:

  1. Build awareness of the new skills needed to pivot the workforce
  2. Use analytics to assess skills and create individualised learning programmes
  3. Foster job shadowing and test for job readiness
  4. Monitor individual employees and help them navigate new-skill development as they deepen their expertise

Every financial services firm will have its own unique needs in relation to integrating human and artificial intelligence to create an applied intelligence workforce. However, the following principles for scaling up new skilling can be universally applied:

  • Prioritise skills for development. There are a number of new skills needed in the workforce of the future, including the ability to teach machines what they need to know and recognise when and how to intervene when a machine is struggling. Organisations must consider all the skills required in this new environment, then prioritise those that are most important.
  • Account for willingness and skill. Individual employees will be at varied states of readiness for the applied intelligence workforce of the future. Training programs must go beyond mere skill development and also take into account mindset—how willing is each employee to embrace the new skills they need? Employee confidence is an important variable in new skilling. Generational differences can be significant, particularly in terms of confidence levels when working with new technologies. These factors must all be considered in programme design.
  • Leverage digital to create innovative learning experiences. The application of virtual and augmented reality technologies can give a significant boost to helping workers master new tasks and work more effectively with intelligent machines.

In my final post in this series I’ll talk about how to overcome some common barriers to creating the workforce of the future and share a few more things to think about as you help your firm make the transition.

For more information about applied intelligence and the impact of AI on financial services, please see Accenture’s banking and insurance reports:

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