Digital upskilling seen as key for society

Digital upskilling seen as key for society

The Royal Gazette, December 12, 2019

Denis Pitcher: We should embrace innovation and disruption, fintech adviser says (Photograph supplied)

Digital transformation creates both benefits and challenges for society, panellists told audience members at the International Cyber Risk Management Conference in Bermuda.

Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader, said digital transformation presents incredible potential as organisations seek to deliver greater value to their stakeholders.

With digital transformation, however, there is also a social responsibility to ensure that the gap between the skills people have and those needed for jobs or to function in the digital world is minimised, Mr Wightman said.

He was joined on the panel by Denis Pitcher, chief fintech adviser to David Burt, the Premier, and Government’s fintech business unit, and Chris Garrod, director, Conyers, who all discussed digital transformation and the importance of digital upskilling.

Mr Pitcher said: “We are on the verge of a paradigm shift in terms of digital transformation and what it will do for global data connectivity. The impact parallels the introduction of the world wide web and the hyperlink of the mid-90s and the shift of access to information that it enabled.

“Modern technology is enabling us to capture more data, drive more insights and break down traditional data silos that will unlock tremendous potential for efficiency, growth and global inclusion over the coming decades.”

He added: “Essential to benefiting from this transformation is looking past hype to understand when these technologies are appropriate as tools to be applied to problems and when they are not. Embracing the technology, upskilling stakeholders and focusing on immersion of the technology within the population will drive the greatest understanding and potential to unlock its value.”

Mr Wightman said: “We’re at an inflection point — we need to act now and collectively to ensure that all parts of our society are able to build the skills needed to participate in a digital workplace.

“This is a complex challenge that will require decision-makers — educators; national, regional and local government leaders; and business leaders — to come together.”

In its latest Human Development Report 2019 — Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century, the United Nations Development Programme identifies that a new generation of inequalities is emerging, with divergence in enhanced capabilities, PwC said.

Mr Pitcher addressed the importance of embracing disruption and innovation so people and organisations are not left behind. He also spoke about the challenge Bermuda has in terms of access to technology, noting that online payment companies like PayPal, Square, and Stripe aren’t available to merchants in Bermuda.

He said: “We may be too small and not appealing as a market. Does this present a risk for inclusion in the future of banking and financial services? What steps can Bermuda take to ensure we are not excluded from innovation?”

Mr Wightman said: “A clear area where Bermuda can embrace disruption is through upskilling. For example, there is a huge skills mismatch globally whereby millions of jobs are going unfilled worldwide.

“Bermuda has the opportunity to help members of the existing workforce, those currently excluded, those starting their working lives, and those in the next generation to learn the skills required to operate in a digital age. This in turn could provide opportunities to participate in a worldwide job market where physical location is somewhat unimportant.”

He added: “Digital upskilling is not just about new technology, in fact it’s the opposite — it’s about learning how to think, act and thrive in a digital world that is sustainable over time. That is an area where we can focus.”

The PwC global network is spending $3 billion over four years to specifically digitally upskill its employees worldwide as well as help clients and communities to do the same.

The professional-services network has launched a 12-minute documentary film looking at the impact of technology on people and the need to deal with rapidly expanding skills mismatches.

In Upskilling: Bridging the Digital Divide, academics, NGOs, policymakers and business leaders explain why upskilling for a digital world has become a priority for society, organisations and governments.

• Watch the film here:

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