TÜV Rheinland Blog - Insights from Asia and Africa

Digital transformation: How companies tend to overlook the human factor

Posted by TUV Rheinland on Dec 18, 2019 3:53:19 PM
TUV Rheinland

Peace and calm – that is the prevailing attitude currently shown at many organizational levels when it comes to skills shortage and getting to grips with digitization. Though many feel that it is getting more and more difficult to find qualified employees, one in three people believe that a shortage of skilled workers does not jeopardize the profitability of their company.

This is something every business leader should know from their own experience: If you fail to find the right candidates for your team, you’ll have to expect increased recruitment and training costs, and also slower growth and even stagnation in the worst-case scenario. This inadvertently creates competitive advantages for market competitors, who may then pull ahead of the others. At the same time, many companies are getting ready for new disruptive markets and business models as well as new competitors to the segment. Therefore, this begs the question: Who actually does the associated jobs? 

Despite or even because of the technological transformation, qualified personnel continue to be an essential factor of production. According to the latest calculations, there will be a global shortage of around 85 million skilled workers by 2030. In fact, there will be no lack of personnel, rather a lack of people with adequate qualifications. Knowledge is decreasing at an unprecedented rate in the fourth Industrial Revolution. Basic qualifications and the associated skills are necessary to even commence one’s professional career, but much more will be required to master the tasks of tomorrow. On top of that: Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming real competition for mere mortal employees. It is faster and more precise than any person – in terms of providing information, analyzing situations and creating forecasts.

Up to 45% of tasks which humans are remunerated for day-in, day-out, can already be automated using current technologies. The costs and complexities involved in implementing technology will continue to fall, while the speed of automation will inevitably continue to accelerate unabated. Every rules-based task currently performed by humans will soon be taken over by software.


What does this mean for the individual, for companies and for the labor market of the future? “Learnability 4.0 is the new currency of working world 4.0 ” was the title of a recent blog by one of the world’s largest personnel service providers. Employees need to be ready to learn new things about which they previously knew nothing. They need to be able to make decisions in areas and situations which are currently unfamiliar or foreign to them.

This requires an ability for self-monitoring, for working on one’s own initiative, and most importantly an ability to perform to a high level, not just in management roles, but increasingly in supposedly simple positions, where, due to a lack of education and training, rapid technological development means a much higher rate of employment than in qualified positions.

The demand for skilled staff capable of handling increasingly complex situations, e.g. working with cobots, is greater than ever. Because creativity, emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility are human skills that robots and artificial intelligence (AI) cannot (currently) replace. This also requires that companies rethink their attitude towards learning in general and towards learning contents.

If the call for “lifelong learning” was only considered a catchy phrase for employees and investment in one’s further education was on the conservative side, the reality is that this assumption has never been more relevant. In Western countries, companies need to create an atmosphere that promotes learning and fun in further education. Emerging countries require basic quality standards, suitable infrastructures, qualified trainers, qualifying learning materials and measurable performance indicators in the development of their skills.

We must never lose sight of the following: There are people who are driving the digital transformation in the economy and society, both as designers and as customers and consumers. Qualification not only has an economic dimension, but also a social dimension because it is an important factor in integrating the individual into a prosperous society. Here, companies have a responsibility to make a contribution to this, but must also seek to secure their own future viability and connectivity to changing markets going forward.

This dossier aims to pinpoint the areas that you can influence in order to make your professional training even more successful. We provide suggestions on internal benchmarking and seek to encourage you to take the initiative, so that you can extract increased added value from your HR strategy by adopting a specific strategic approach. Those companies who can find the right mix of skilled staff, competencies and technology will be able to survive in the market over time and stay one step ahead of the competition.

Markus Dohm, Executive Vice President, TÜV Rheinland Academy & Life Care

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Topics: AA19_A02_PersCert, Whitepaper