Of all the sectors we studied for the TAFE NSW Evolution of Skills report, none demonstrated the same requirement for leaps in skilling that we saw as being necessary in trasport and logistics.
The high level of human dependency in this sector (think delivery drivers, or warehouse pickers and packers) has already seen it become the subject of intense speculation (and investment) regarding the role of automation (think driverless cars and trucks, or automated warehouse environments such as those operated by China’s JD.com).
In Australia we are really only at the early stages of automation in transport and logistics, starting with driverless trains and some warehouse automation projects, such as those undertaken by the ecommerce retailer Catch Group (I suspect it this company’s investments in warehouse automation – and the lessons it has learned – was a strong factor in its acquisition by Wesfarmers).
But as automation takes hold, the sector faces a significant challenge in terms of ensuring it can develop the skills necessary to operate its new systems and processes. As Catch Group has learned, there is a big difference between managing a standard warehouse and an automated one, and hence a wide delta between the skills that managers posess today and those they will need in the future. Across the sector, roles are becoming more complex, and often require skills from different disciplines. Srong change management programs will be needed to transition workers into new delivery models and with skills acquisition.
It’s a big challenge, but one that must be met if organisations in this sector are to keep up with customer expectations. You can read the complete findings in the sector report, downloadable from the TAFE NSW website.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of being invited along to deliver a Masterclass presentation as part of the WYNnovation Festival held by my own local council, the City of Wyndham.
It was a great opportunity to test out some of the recent research work I’ve undertaken into the attributes of transformative leaders and the need for business leaders to acquire new skills to navigate successfully through the current decade, backed by the core messages of the Managing for Change book that I co-authored with Peter Frtiz AO a few years ago.
It’s a simple message really – that in any period of change, there are winners and losers. In almost all instances the winners are those organisations that either drive the change (at great risk) or respond the fastest. Those organisations that wait until they are standing on a proverbial burning platform inevitably find themselves with unpalatable choices.
A simple message – but one that is increbily difficult to put into practice. As human beings we seem naturally predisposed to resist change – even when we know that failing to change will be to our professional (or even personal) detriment.
Over the new few weeks I’m planning on posting up a number of the insights and conclusions that I’ve been able to draw from my work over the last few years. Having already lived through one sector’s downturn (print publishing) and seen the ramifiactions first hand, I’m determined to do what I can to ensure that all businesses owners have a greater understanding of the changes that are happening around then, and hence a greater opportunity to benefit through their response.
Change is inevitable, and unless we are the rare creatures who create change, then we are destined to play the role of respondent. But how well we play that role, and the benefits that flow from doing so, is entirely up to us.
If you’ve noted the repeated references to skills in my recent posts and other work, you might be interested in knowing where this thinking stems from. In early 2019 I was asked by TAFE NSW to help with the creation and writing of an indepth report looking into Australia’s future skills challenges and the strategies that might help organisations to avoid them.
The result is the report The Evolution of Skills, and it has yielded numerous findings, ranging from the universal requirement for not just digital skills in the workforce, but also for soft skills such as problem solving, collaboration and systems thinking. It also demonstrated the trend towards specialisation in many roles, and the challenge this presents in finding people with the requisite expereince to do the jobs that will emerge in the next ten years. Conversely, it also showed how many roles will require a blend of skills from multiple disciplines, creating the need for cross-skilling of a large segment of the workforce.
The key conclusion of the work was that the employment market simply won’t be able to supply the workers that Australian organisations will need to succeed through this decade. This will in turn arise the need to identify those workers who are best suited to reskilling and then invest in the programs that will get there where they need to be.
Interestingly two of the best examples or organisations thata are taking a strong stance on reskilling are both publicly-owned organisations – Sydney Water and Service NSW, and you can read their stories in the Infrastructure and Government sections of the report.
This content has become a key component of much of current public speaking work, and has also informed my ongoing investigations in the attributes of transformative leaders.
A quick shout out the team at Open Forum for posting up my latest musings on the connection between skills development and long term competitiveness. Skills (or more specficailly, a lack of skills) is quickly emerging as a risk factor for many businesses in terms of impacting their long term plans. It is something covered in detail in the Evolution of Skills report I worked on for TAFE NSW, and a topic that I hope to give some voice to in the emerging debate regarding Australia’s future resilience.
One of the topics I spent a lot of time looking into in 2019 was the common attributes of organisations who execute successful change programs. One factor that came through as being critical to the success of these programs was having buy-in from staff.
In parallel, the past few years have seen a growth in interest in measuring employee engagement within organisations. This has been great news for companies such as Qualtrics and local hero Culture Amp, who provide tools to measure and influence staff engagement and organisational culture. It’s also been interesting to witness the increased interest in purpose within many organisations. I’ve spent quite a few hours listening to executives talk about the importance of giving staff a sense that what they are doing is for more than just shareholder returns.
In this article for CMO, and again in this special report for The Australiian, I had the chance to talk to a number of business leaders about the importance of sustainability to their brand. But the discussions also uncovered another lesson that might be useful for many organisations – that of how having a strong purpose around sustainability can make a workforce more resillient to change. The idea is that people are more willing to accept and even embrace radical change when they can see that the outcome will be of significant benefit to their organisation in terms of its ability to meet its purpose.
Instilling a sense that ‘this is for the greater good’ is a critical element in succesful transformation programs. And that desire to push forward with chance can clearly be enhanced when the greater good is much greater than just being for the good of the organisation itself.