Transformation der Schweizer Wirtschaft


What key competencies are needed in the digital age?

The impact of automation on employees, companies and education

The impact of automation and digitalisation on the world of work is likely to increase further in the years to come. The Deloitte study “What key competencies are needed in the digital age?” discusses the associated effects on the Swiss labour force and highlights what competencies will be particularly sought after in the future. The study also looks into how the education system and companies should respond to these changes.

What key competencies are needed in the digital age?

Key findings

Automation generates employment growth

Over recent years, automation has created more jobs than it has destroyed. Of the 800,000 or so new jobs created between 1990 and 2013, some 200,000 can probably be attributed solely to automation. And in future years, automation is likely to continue to create more jobs than it destroys. It also looks likely that transformation in occupational roles and the shifting of jobs both within and between sectors will accelerate.

Increase in knowledge and training intensity

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of jobs where cognitive abilities and customer service have become more important. This reflects Switzerland’s move towards a more service-oriented economy. Advanced levels of training and complex problem-solving skills have also become more important for employees.

Creativity, social intelligence and ICT expertise as the competencies of the future

Creativity and social intelligence in particular are likely to be essential skills for most new jobs created between now and 2030. Because these skills give humans a clear advantage over machines and software, they also offer protection against developments in automation, making jobs ‘future-proof’. In future, there will also be greater demand for individuals with excellent mathematical skills and expertise in ICT. Job prospects and protection against automation will be even better for individuals who can combine mathematical and technological skills with creativity and/or social intelligence.

Niche opportunities: education and training, health, and communications 

Some new jobs will be created in areas where total job numbers are relatively low, but where particular competencies will be required. The future will provide good employments prospects for employees with excellent knowledge in the areas of education and training, health, and communications. Although this knowledge may not be crucial to most newly-created jobs in future, it nevertheless offers protection against automation in these ‘niche occupations’.

Prospects for lower skilled individuals thanks to flexibility and versatility

Humans have an advantage over machines not only for their creativity and social intelligence but also because they can demonstrate versatility and situational adaptability. These skills are important for occupations requiring fewer or lower qualifications, but where craft skills and psychomotor skills are needed, such as cooking and hairdressing.

Discover future-proofed competencies for each job by clicking on the icon

A well-positioned education and training system with potential for improvement

The permeability and practical orientation of the education and training system and high levels of qualification among employees give Switzerland an advantage in labour market terms. However, the training system must adapt to the challenges of automation and digitalisation. This includes accelerating changes in vocational training, so that it is able to respond rapidly to evolving occupational profiles and skills requirements, and focusing more on basic education in ICT skills and social intelligence.

Lifelong learning and further training

In addition to the provision of initial (basic) training, further training and retraining will also be important. Employees will have to engage in lifelong learning through further training if they are to be capable of responding as rapidly as possible to changes in skills requirements triggered by automation and digitalisation. However, lower-skilled employees in particular are often unwilling to undergo further training. This reluctance could be tackled by measures by the state and employers to raise awareness of its importance.

Motivating employees through further training

Talent management that focuses on the needs of individuals and enhances their employability can increase employee motivation and productivity, and improve the attractiveness of companies as employers –issues that are particularly significant in the digital age for recruiting and retaining staff. This also applies to further training: companies should embed an awareness of the need for relevant further training within their corporate culture. They should also make use of digital technologies to enhance training provision and opportunities.

Greater use of digital technologies improves employee recruitment

Digital technologies can be used to facilitate recruitment of new staff. The use and evaluation of social media and mobile phone data in staff recruitment would increase the amount and detail of available information, and improve the accuracy of evaluation. Digital technology can also be used to establish direct contact with job applicants and support the recruitment process, for example through online behavioural tests and video interviews.

Webcast on the automation study (in German)

Related topics

  • Transforming the Swiss economy: This study examines the effects of automation on different Swiss business sectors and highlights what opportunities and challenges it will create for companies.
  • Structural change creates jobs: This study shows that the positive effects of automation in Switzerland will continue to dominate in the future.
  • Man and Machine - robots on the rise: This report explores the impact of automation on jobs in Switzerland.
  • Next generation automation: This report highlights the differences between robotic automation + artificial intelligence led automation and helps you choose which to prioritize.
  • The robots are here: This report examines Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and its role in shared services and Global Business Services (GBS).
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