A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

*Can Construction Apprenticeships Save Young People From the Threat of AI?

Commercial construction companies are not yet threatened by Artificial Intelligence (AI), but they will be within the next decade. Recently, there are several studies and predictions for other industries like manufacturing, professional service and customer facing services that we should take notice of and incorporate in our “now” thinking. We thought that these studies would be of interest to you.

Medium.com published an article that was part of a program at the World Economic Forum entitled, “Can Apprenticeships Save Young People from the Threat of AI.

According to the discussion:

The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2020, more than five million jobs will disappear in manufacturing and customer service. Yet, we can expect AI to create jobs elsewhere; according to a recent survey by Capgemini already today four out of five companies have created new job roles through deploying AI-based systems.

This is a signal for the commercial construction industry. We are behind the curve in this disruption cycle. A number educators, trainers, and industry leaders of cities and companies are looking for solutions that will provide a sustainable trained workforce for the next decade.

One model, “The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system in Switzerland is considered the global gold standard due to its positive impact on the nation’s economic success, rich employer engagement, and low youth unemployment.”  The model utilizes apprenticeships to offer career tracks to the youth of the country.

Why? According to one Swiss CEO:

The one thread we all have in common is our support of effective interventions, such as work-based training programs, particularly apprenticeship as a way to guarantee skills and to help our employees cope with the onset of AI. Although education and training have traditionally been the responsibility of the public sector in most countries, companies are increasingly recognising and responding to the needs of educating and training our future workforce, especially for reskilling and lifelong learning.”

Today, the VET program in Switzerland has achieved impressive goals. “The current youth unemployment rate is 2.2%. 70% of young people ages 15-19 choose the VET pathway for their careers versus college education and 50% of Swiss jobs now require a Federal VET diploma”. - Accenture

The article continues.

Apprenticeships boast a strong track record of return on investment for both businesses and the apprentice’s career track, but there are still hurdles in its wide scale adoption. The two main reasons are:

Stigmaapprenticeship and vocational training are still perceived as a second-rate track in comparison to going to university. The general public is unaware that apprenticeships do and can exist more in future-facing industries, increasingly linked to the world of AI including, banking, IT, human resources, healthcare and tourism.

Costs and complexityregulating apprenticeships can be a heavy process in many countries and therefore a hindrance to employers and possible apprenticeship candidates. Without the right incentives and easier registration processes for employers, innovations in skills training are less likely to happen. As employers, we know that there is a strong business case in support of apprenticeships and we are making strides in several countries to change legislation in our favour.

According to a recent Accenture Report, Jobs Now Swiss-Style Vocational Education and Training, a number of US states; Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and  Washington are working with major Swiss companies to incorporate the VET system into their state wide apprentice and training programs.

The original question, a “take off” of the Medium post, was Can Construction Apprenticeships Save Young People From the Threat of AI? The answer is a strong “Maybe” but only if we take advantage of existing programs like the Swiss VET program and raise the bar for the industry and if we do it now.

The World Economic Forum 2018 is scheduled for later this month in Davos. You can see the program at www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2018

*Apologies to the WEForum.