This article has been originally published at APMG


Will the investments organisations have made in digital technology during the pandemic lead to an era of rapid productivity? Not without a strategic investment in skills.

In December 2020 The Economist recently published an article, “The pandemic will give way to an era of rapid productivity growth.”

The article was very optimistic, claiming that the technology improvements organisations have been adopting over the last decade, and especially in the last year or so, will lead to an era of rapid productivity growth.


The World Economic Forum identifies the post COVID-19 skills most needed by organisations

Supporting the argument is research by the World Economic Forum (March 2020) on the future of jobs, which identifies a rapid growth of technical jobs. The World Economic Forum predicts that about 80% of organisations will have adopted digital technologies within the next five years.

Big data and analytics, cyber security and artificial intelligence top the list of the most needed skills by organisations.

I love the optimism that such a macro-economic viewpoint provides. My concern is how do we get there?

There is often a grey zone between the development of a technology and its widespread adoption. For instance, many people are talking about the benefits of electric cars and how they will replace diesel and petrol cars by 2030. The oil giants are investing in green fuel but billions more investment is needed before they are no longer reliant on fossil fuels.

What the article does not address is a “grey area” namely where is the strategic investment in skills? Where is the investment in developing a global talent pool who can support the transition from “as is” to this high productivity future? Where is the training in basic skills to enable everyone to develop with the emerging economy and support (or become) the tech gurus of the future?

Some governments, such as Singapore, have made a start on preparing their citizens with digital skills. Last year the Finnish government designed an AI course for all its residents and 1% signed up but we need much more.

Without a truly global investment in skill, will it be another false dawn of productivity?

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