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Industrial automation sans employees upskilling proving futile

Biz houses not investing adequately in employee training

Mumbai

Low investment in upskilling the current workforce has led most businesses to miss out on the true benefits of automation globally, a new report said on Wednesday.

In the majority of companies (58 per cent), automation is not yet meeting executives’ desired goals of increased productivity, said the report by the Capgemini Research Institute, a think-tank of French technology services major Capgemini.

The research, based on a survey of 800 executives and 1,200 employees globally from over 400 large organisations, suggested that enterprises with a 50,000 strong workforce or more can expect to save about $90 million more per year than companies that do not upskill or are yet to upskill their employees.

"Automation offers significant benefits to large organisations, but only if the implementation of technology is matched by the upskilling of people.

"Too many big companies are lagging in developing training programmes and, as this research shows, are not realising full productivity benefits as a result," said Claudia Crummenerl, Managing Director, People and Organisation practice at Capgemini Invent.

When asked to name their main reasons for undertaking automation initiatives, 37 per cent of the respondents said it was to improve workforce productivity, the most popular motivation after improving quality (43 per cent).

Yet, 58 per cent of executives and 54 per cent of employees said automation had not yet improved productivity in their organisation.

This was especially marked in Sweden, the US and China, where 66 per cent, 64 per cent and 61 per cent of executives respectively said automation had failed to enhance employee productivity.

"Moreover, employees in most countries agree with the opinions of executives on this point, with the exception of India, China and France," said the report.

Among organisations that combine automation efforts with a clear upskilling programme, there is more optimism about the impact of automation.

"In these cases, most employees (52 per cent) and a high proportion of executives (46 per cent) said automation was improving productivity.

Moreover, in organisations midway through an upskilling programme, employees were more positive than those in the initial phase of upskilling, about career progression, boosted morale and carrying out new responsibilities.

"There is no question that automation is going to transform the workforce and existing job roles, but the crucial factor is that companies make faster progress to prepare themselves, and their employees, to realise the benefits of automation," said Crummenerl.

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