Fourth Industrial Revolution

Future of work: 5 top insights from Davos experts

Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation, USA during the Session "Data Responsibility in a Fractured World" at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25,  2018.Copyright by World Economic Forum / Boris Baldinger

Image: Boris Baldinger

Poppie Mphuthing
Editorial Lead, Global Leadership Fellow, World Economic Forum LLC
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Fourth Industrial Revolution

1) It's smart to hire people smarter than you

This is the top advice from Jack Ma, Executive Chairman Alibaba Group Holding.

"When I hire people, I hire the people who are smarter than I am. People who four, five years later could be my boss. I like people who I like, who are positive and who never give up."

The best people are optimistic and don't complain, he says.

Ma noted that he survived the corporate world for 20 years because he was a teacher in his former life.

"You always want your students to be better than you, to be a mayor, not in prison. Rule number one: help people to be better than you are," he said.

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2) New collar workers are the future

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty says that as automation continues apace the skills gap and job insecurity fears are real.

“When we talk of a skills crisis, I really do believe that 100 % of jobs will change,” she said.

But she argues the crisis is not impossible to overcome.

Rometty wants to see the development of a new education and career model: new collar, not blue collar or white collar. This means investing in skills development and responding in real time to the changing skills landscape. It also means breaking free from traditional models of recruiting those with 4-year and advanced degrees.

"We as a company are passionate that if we don't fix this issue, to bridge this skill right now, at the rate it's moving, you will have unrest," Rometty said. "And so people have to have a route in."

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3) Recruiting women into technical roles will make machines learn more efficiently

LinkedIn Co-Founder and Vice-President of Product Allen Blue notes that AI and machine learning are becoming fundamental to how all technology is built, when one considers phones, banking and many other products and activities.

“It’s important, as we go forward, that we are designing and building that tech in the right way,” he said, reflecting on the inherent biases that many algorithms have because they were designed and built by white males.

Blue argues that technology can positively support flexibility of the workplace. It enables learning via online, video-based, non-real time learning. Certain technology also enables people to balance their lives, by working remotely.

4) Invest in training the youth and the unemployed

France's Minister of Labour, Muriel Pénicaud, described her re-skilling programme, which includes giving employees 500 Euros a year to choose their own training programme.

"Today access to capital is easier than access to skills," she said, noting the need for pro-action.

"Many of our citizens think they are victims of globalization and technology. When you are not in the driving seat, change is always a threat. You need to be in the driving seat, you need to be able to choose your future."

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5) Survivors of mental health challenges are good for business

Mental health was on the agenda at Davos with a number of discussions on how to break the stigma and create more supporting workplaces. John Flint, the CEO of HSBC, noted that survivors are assets.

"Those who have recovered often possess a resilience and resourcefulness," he said.

Flint wants to turn the bank into “the healthiest human system.” He described this not as a fuzzy, feel-good effort, but as a question of performance.

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Fourth Industrial RevolutionEducation and SkillsJobs and the Future of Work
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