Bob Violino is a freelance business and technology writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s well established that there’s a growing need for people with skills related to automation and the technologies that support automating business processes.
Demand for these skills is outpacing supply, however, as the worldwide skills gap continues to widen. A study by organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030 there will be a talent deficit of 85.2 million workers.
Given the importance of automation for business, why not prioritize training in these areas to build up the supply of skilled professionals?
Organizations should be doing everything they can today to provide training, education, and certification in automation-focused areas. They need to prepare their workforces for the ‘future of work,’ which at the rate things are going might be arriving sooner than we think.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and other automation technologies are expected to create millions of new jobs in the near future. This could present enormous opportunities for people looking to enter the technology field, or those wanting to move from one technology profession to another.
With strong training programs in place, the promise of these opportunities can become a reality—to the benefit of individuals as well as companies.
Business consulting firm McKinsey & Company has noted that retraining is one of the main actions companies need to take in order to build the workforce of the future.
Retraining raises the skill capacity of current employees or new hires by teaching them new or different skills, according to the firm, and these actions “ensure that in-house functional knowledge, experience, and understanding of company culture are preserved as employees acquire the skills they need.”
Industry leaders like Amazon already understand the importance of providing upskilling to employees. Amazon has pledged to spend $700 million to upskill employees.
A key consideration for organizations is whether to provide automation training via internal resources, or to go outside for help from a third-party training service or educational institution. Which direction to go in will likely come down to whether the internal resources are adequate, the costs of internal versus external training, the complexity of the subject matter, and other factors.
Either way, a vital component for success in preparing individuals for the coming age of automation is to make training not only broadly available, but applicable to a large number of potential trainees.
Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the current economic climate, while others might be looking to make a career change in the coming months because of concerns about their own future career path. If given the right training, a lot of these people could take on the automation-focused positions companies will be looking to fill.
In addition, because some of these roles will be virtual, they could fit in well with the widespread work-at-home model forced by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Global Workplace Analytics, a company that helps organizations understand the business case for workplace strategies and practices, estimates that 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.
While some employees will seek to return to the office environment, others will find working at home to be more productive. Learning RPA and other automation skills can help them remain employable as remote work becomes more common.
Academic institutions, industry associations, standards groups, and vendors all need to contribute to the supply of training programs as automation takes on a bigger role in all facets of life.
Even before the pandemic crisis was fully understood, business leaders and organizations were call for the need to prepare people for the workplace of the future.
For example, a report earlier this year by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board noted that the public and private sectors must work together to develop job-training programs that will meet the disruptive challenges of technological, demographic, global, and societal changes. The report described the need for a job training system that more effectively helps workers achieve their goals and the nation field a more modern, highly skilled workforce.
In one such effort to address the need, UiPath announced an expansion to its RPA certification program and a more comprehensive training platform. Both efforts are designed to prepare people with the automation knowledge and tools they need in order to be ready for the future of work.
The free online RPA training offered in UiPath Academy gives participants an opportunity to learn new automation skills or expand on what they already know. The Academy offers learning plans specific to the job roles within an organization’s RPA center of excellence (CoE).
Such roles include RPA developers, solution architects, infrastructure engineers, implementation managers, and business analysts. Since the Academy was launched in 2017, more than 600,000 people worldwide have enrolled.
The company recently expanded its Certification program, which has already certified some 40,000 advanced RPA developers.
The training effort reaches into the academic community as well, with nearly 500 colleges and universities in the UiPath Academic Alliance program teaching students about RPA. Developers, students, and small teams have free and unlimited access to the community edition of the UiPath platform.
Finally, the company launched the Reboot Your Skills Program, a four-week accelerated course for people who want to develop in-demand RPA skills that begins on April 20, 2020.
Editor's note: If you missed the opportunity to register for the April 2020 Reboot Your Skills program, you can still sign up to be notified of future learning opportunities.
The free program includes on-demand courses, collaboration with a community of students, and live access to RPA experts in weekly webinars and office hours. Open to anyone, this program offers an introduction to RPA and teaches participants how to build software robots in less than 16 hours of curriculum. Anyone can enroll in the free RPA training program.