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Leaders must create the future workforce

Posted on Feb 12, 2017

Digital has already delivered a major blow to businesses slow to respond. There’s more to come. The very concept of work is being redefined as different generations enter and exit the workforce amidst a rapidly changing technological landscape.

Responsive and responsible leaders at the very highest levels of the organisation must act to harness the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for long-term advantage and shareholder value. Mindful to put their people first, at the centre of change.

The new leadership imperative is clear: Create the future workforce. Now.

Key findings of Harnessing Revolution report

Business leaders need to ensure that their people are relevant and adaptable. The stakes are high for businesses, workers and society as a whole.

The good news: leaders can build on a workforce that’s already highly engaged with digital. And reshape their organizations to allow workers to flourish in a future augmented by new technologies in a way that drives real business value – labor productivity, talent acquisition and retention, as well as innovation and creativity.

The bad news: The clock is ticking. CEOs need to put people as the priority or risk leaving scores of workers, and their company’s competitive strength, behind.

To prepare the workforce, leaders need to:

  • Accelerate reskilling people
  • Redesign work to unlock human potential
  • Strengthen the talent pipeline from its source

Based on Accenture interviews and discussions with business leaders and experts around the world, it’s clear that it’s time for CEOs to take social and economic actions that allow people and technology to reach their full potential.

Australia findings:

  • 84% of people surveyed are optimistic about changes technology will bring to work in next five years.
  • 77% have a positive attitude about impact of automation on work experience in the next five years.
  • 78% expect part of job to be automated in the next five years.
  • 80% would invest free time to learn new skills to stay relevant;
  • The top skills needed to stay relevant at work in the next five years include: the ability to change and learn; technical skills; judgement and decision making.


To create the future workforce now leaders need to:

  1. Make every leader a digital leader. Reskilling should involve all levels of the organisation from bottom to top.
  2. Live the example of open source. Strike the right balance between protecting your corporate DNA and offering the broader workforce access to learning resources.
  3. Tackle labour policies. Leaders can influence their own organisations readily enough. But also need to exert their influence on public policy through lobbying groups and industry advocacy.
  4. Good things come to those who wait. Invest for the long-term based on a new, less direct organisational payoff.
  5. Become good stewards of the future. Make developing tomorrow’s talent a strategic priority for your business.

Ellyn Shook and Mark Knickrehm are from Accenture. This is a synopsis of their report “Harnessing Revolution: Creating a new workforce”. 

For more on the report click here