MDB Insight Blog


What Does the Changing Workforce Mean for Workforce Development?

Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, digitization, robotics, and technology are changing the way we work. Over the next decade, 25% of jobs will be heavily disrupted by these technologies.

Many jobs that are repetitive in nature or highly systematized will potentially be replaced or augmented by automation or AI. Although this may result in job losses, the technological systems put in place will increase worker safety, decrease production line downtime, and increase the quality of products and services.

For example, a programmable logic controller (PLC) used in a manufacturing plant is a digital device connected to many machines and robots. The PLC monitors performance and faults, using the information to determine when a machine should be shut down for safety reasons or for maintenance. The PLC reduces the oversight required by the human workforce, and increases the efficiency of planning for maintenance and ensuring worker safety 

More jobs in total will be created than lost by 2020 as a consequence of AI. The workforce will see an increase in jobs that support, develop, and apply these new technologies. For example, coders, repair technicians, installation experts, and trainers in PLC technology are now in high demand. A large portion of the jobs created will also go to those who design and implement new tech in the workplace. New skills will be required for these newly-created high tech jobs.

Focusing Your Workforce on Skills for the Future

The RBC Report “Human’s Wanted” predicts an imminent shift to a skills-based economy. Your workforce requirements will see less emphasis placed on experience and more on core skills. It will be essential for evolving workforce development strategies to promote digital fluency.

Not everyone will need to have extensive tech skills available, such as coding, robotics, or engineering. However, a basic level of competence in computer skills, digital communication, and interfacing with digital equipment will be an asset in the future workforce. 


In addition, given the rapid pace of change, training and education in digital technologies, robotics, and AI will continue to evolve. Training beyond traditional degree or diploma programs would make it easier for people to continually upgrade their skills. Workforce developers are poised to facilitate these programs, in conjunction with industry stakeholders and educators, to ensure that the workforce feels supported and ready for the future.

There is also an increasing demand for the following soft skills in the workforce:

  • Critical thinking
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Active listening
  • Coordination
  • Complex problem solving

The list of soft skills represents core competencies that machines and robots do not yet possess. A labour force that is able to adapt quickly, effectively use technology, and perform tasks that computers can’t will be in high demand.

Mobility will be important to workforce development, as technology continues to facilitate new and improved positions and companies. A combination of digital fluency and soft skills will make it easier for the workforce to be mobile and flexible. By focusing on skills development over job-specific experience, workers can easily transition between jobs and upgrade skills as required.

Technology in the Workforce Requires Technology in Workforce Development

Technology can also be used to keep up with the changing landscape of workforce development. The Regional Labour Demand ReportTM uses technology to efficiently collect data, and then analyzes the types of jobs, required education, salary ranges, and employment types (i.e. full-time, part-time, or contract) available in your region. Specific skills required for the jobs in your local community can even be extracted and presented in real time to inform your workforce development plan. 

There are many platforms, similar to the Regional Labour Demand Report, that can assist you in preparing for future labour shortages. Let a technology-driven platform do the research for you, so that you can focus on strategically supporting the workforce, industry partners, and education providers in a skills-based economy.

Workforce Development Plans Focused on Skills

Incorporate data collected on the required skills for your local community into an effective workforce development plan.

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