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    New research from Salesforce, carried out by YouGov, uncovers that the key to helping employees to thrive during this continued era of technological advancement, is to encourage a fundamental transformation of what we define as “education.” Businesses need to recognise that in 2018 and beyond, the ceremonial throw of a graduation cap is no longer enough to ensure someone is primed for the future workforce.

    The Salesforce study of over 2,000 UK workers, job seekers and students revealed that all three groups agree that continuous lifelong learning is essential when the pace of technological development is rapidly increasing. But, in many cases, they feel that employers continue to value traditional education paths, such as university degrees, most highly. The responses show that employers need to recognise and support other forms of learning and experience equally, alongside more traditional paths. This way, businesses can ensure that fair opportunities are provided to people off all backgrounds across the UK, while building a diverse team that is best-placed to thrive in the workplace of the future.

    Preparing for the jobs of tomorrow

    The study reveals some concern, though, that the Fourth Industrial Revolution poses risks to future job prospects. More than one in three workers (37%) in the UK believe there is a risk they won’t be able to get a job if they don't acquire the skills to match future technology. The youngest workers, job seekers and full-time students are most likely to have these fears, with 54% expressing this sentiment.

    However, individuals with the highest levels of education are the most likely to believe that a lack of further digital education will cost them a future job. This is a view held by nearly half (48%) of UK adults with a master's degree or a PhD, followed by undergraduate university students at 43%.

    Towards truly digital education

    More than 30% of people who left full-time education less than a year ago and almost half (48%) of those who left full-time education between one and five years ago say technology and digital skills were taught poorly when they were last in full-time education.

    Meanwhile, nearly a third (32%) of people who currently hold middle management roles in their organisations say they were never taught technology or digital skills at school, college or university. More than half of UK adults (54%) claim that they were neither proactively encouraged nor discouraged to pursue a career in technology by teachers or lecturers and some (7%) were even proactively discouraged to do so.

    There’s a clear gap here, but it won't be filled by simply demanding that the education system instigates change. No individual company, government or politician can solve a societal challenge of this scale on their own. Preparing more workers for the jobs of the future requires a concerted effort between organisations across industries and geographies, as well as partnership between the public and private sectors. Business has a crucial role to play in driving this.

    Developing a workforce that is Fourth Industrial Revolution-ready requires a clear commitment from businesses to provide ongoing lifelong training in digital skills, which are accessible to all.

    Andrew Lawson EVP and General Manager Salesforce commented:

    "Businesses, the government and education institutions have a combined responsibility to help employees to mitigate the risks and realise the benefits that come with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This requires a fundamental transformation of what we consider to be ‘education’.

    Shifting to a model of continuous lifelong learning is essential when the pace of technological advancements is rapidly increasing. Employers can play their part by recognising other forms of learning and experience equally, alongside more traditional paths and support their staff to embrace ongoing training and education. This way, businesses can ensure that fair opportunities are provided to people across the UK, while building a diverse team that is best-placed to support the workplace of the future.”

    Antony Walker, Deputy CEO, techUK commented:

    As the UK economy becomes more digitised, the world of work is changing. Some jobs will be automated but lots more will be created, and almost every job will be changed in some way by digital technology. This report from Salesforce provides valuable insight into how the UK should prepare for change and ensure that we have a workforce equipped with the skills we need for the future.

    There is going to be huge demand for digital skills right across the economy. We need to think creatively about how we are going to help people acquire those skills whatever their age, geographical location and educational background. To do this, employers and educators will need to work in partnership to ensure all communities are ‘work ready’ for the future.”

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