The culture of hiring solely based on relevant qualifications is becoming outmoded and in terms of the future of work employers will need think more leftfield.

As 300 education technology (edtech) expects gather at the Learnovation Summit at Croke Park today (1 October), the message is that employers need to change the way they are hiring and upskilling staff to ensure our workplaces have the right human skills to cope with a transforming digital age.

They need to move away from hiring “know-it-alls” and instead hire “explorers” who want to know it all. This was the message from Wendy van Tol, a consulting leader at PwC in the Netherlands who has carried out extensive international research into human value in the digital age.

“We don’t want ‘know-it-alls’, we want people who want to know it all. The explorers”

She also asked if we were allowing technology to shape our society – rather than the other way around – and speaks about the social acceptance of putting devices between people, which is getting in the way of one-to-one relationships at work and at home.

Funded by Enterprise Ireland, The Learnovate Centre is an industry-led technology centre made up of expert researchers using emerging technology to help transform the lives of learners in the workplace, schools, at third level and in the home.

Human value in the digital age

Van Tol that digitalisation and automation are already fundamentally transforming the way we work and many organisations currently focus on the cognitive skills humans bring to the workplace.

“We can still hire uber smart PhDs as we will still need people to create the algorithms but we need people to ensure we are in control of the data and that the  people who have access to that data act in a right, ethical and moral way”

However, smart automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already outsmarting the cognitive human brain so other skills, such as adaptability and creativity, are becoming very important.

“But also empathy, care, integrity and imagination are values that are needed to build the bridge between technology and increased prosperity and wellbeing. If looking at skills in the workplace, do we really need people with two degrees? The people with all the qualifications? Are we going to choose the person who has all the qualifications and ticks all the boxes or are we going to go for someone who has emotional intelligence and is clearly a team player; a person who is open to exploring?

“We don’t want ‘know-it-alls’, we want people who want to know it all. The explorers. I work in the financial sector and there is such a strong bias of what is quality but sometimes the people who are over-qualified are not always the right people for the job – we need more explorers. Employers put high stakes on digital upskilling but we are missing a bit of the jigsaw; those who have emotional connections, the creative problem-solvers. We need people who are humble enough to be aware of their bias and embrace their ignorance.

“We can still hire uber smart PhDs as we will still need people to create the algorithms but we need people to ensure we are in control of the data and that the people who have access to that data act in a right, ethical and moral way.”

Unintended consequences excuses hold no water

Van Tol is also questioning whether or not we are using technology to help improve our society or if technology is instead shaping our society.

“We have to ask ourselves if tech is leading our behaviours when it should be the other way around. We want to create a human economy that has technology at its heart to get a better world and not be ruled by technology.

“There is a social acceptance in the way we are connecting with people through technology and that is getting in the way of one-on-one relationships. Often a device is put in between people – in both work and personal relationships. We are putting technology in between human beings. We need to learn how to get the benefits of technology and at the same time learn how to deal with the often unintended consequences that make us less human.”

Main image: Heather Waters (6) from Celbridge, Co. Kildare with Dr. Benoît Bossavit from the School of Computer Science and Statistics in Trinity College Dublin at the launch of The Learnovation Summit. Image: Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 1 October, 2019

Recommended