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article imageWorkers need to be empowered by digital technology

By Tim Sandle     Jan 19, 2018 in Business
According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google the adoption of digital technology by businesses should 'empower' workers and not 'alienate' them from the task in hand.
As companies go through the digital transformation process more digital technology is needed, cutting into many aspects of business to help drive improvements to manufacturing of raising the bar with customer satisfaction. This means more workers with information technology skills. These workers do not necessarily need to come through traditional education routes, allowing for different career pathways. At the same time those in established jobs are being required to use more digital resources, and how these workers are upskilled requires care and alternative learning models. These are some key themes identified by Google's Sundar Pichai.
Traditional models for IT skills
Writing for Recode, Pichai considers there has been too great an emphasis upon workers who work or develop digital technology to have a strong background in coding and to be qualified with computer science degrees or stand-alone certified courses. There are benefits to this, he writes, especially for meeting "the growing need for workers who can write the software that will power everyone’s businesses."
An office worker using a laptop.
An office worker using a laptop.
Pichai also adds an emphasis upon computer coding in education will "help countless people more move into in-demand, high paying careers." Such people often show success in the workplace as so-termed digital change agents. However, there is a downside with the traditional computer science skills and training model.
Alternative paths for digital skills
In setting out his vision for a new approach, Pichai explains how technology altering at an accelerated pace, resulting in "new job areas emerging and transforming constantly." The effect of this, he contends, is that businesses need "to focus on making lightweight, continuous education widely available."
Without this, workers who are experiencing technology creep can feel disconnected from their work methods and work outputs. He draws on the example of office administrators who now need to become proficient in an array of online programs, such as for budgeting, scheduling, accounting and so on.
About empowering, not alientating
Pichai states: "While digital technology should be empowering people, it can often alienate them from their own jobs." The use of the sociological concept "alienate" is curious. Here his central point probably means that digital skills training needs to be become an established part of all types of work in the modern workplace.
Drawing on a survey by Brookings Institute into jobs in the U.S., Pichai draws on statistics which should close to half of all job snow required "medium level digital skills".
This is best met, he proposes, not through formal and lengthy education but via shorter training blocks to allow workers to use technology to research, to plan events, analyze data and so on. For IT positions he further states that apprenticeships can be used instead of always taking graduates and by offering different career pathways. He terms this as "constant, lightweight and ubiquitous forms of education."
In related news, there are other strategies appropriate for different business undergoing digital transformation. A review by IT Portal outlines six steps that businesses can consider for the transformative process (reviewed by Digital Journal in the article "Going digital: Six step process for business.")
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