Have you woken up to the digital revolution?

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive – Management Accounting – at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants 

Change is the new norm in our digital world, and this applies as much to accounting as it does to anything else but it looks like most UK workers haven’t woken up to the fact - have you?

Our UK Mind the Skills Gap research shines a light on some startling deficiencies with in-work learning, and a complacency with new technology − as Brexit looms and the fourth industrial revolution takes hold. Whilst 62% of business leaders said sections of their operations could be automated in the next five years, it is shocking that 26% of workers have not even considered the impact of automation on their roles. Management accountants need to take note and understand what this means for their careers, and for the organisations they work at.

Technology is already affecting the way we work. In the same way that electricity led to a surge in new technologies that changed the world, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to be the catalyst for a new world and workplace. It is, therefore, not surprising that employees’ roles will also change drastically.

In addition to the gap between employers and employees on the impact of automation, more worryingly is worker attitudes to learning new skills. Our recent survey of UK workers revealed that over a quarter have not participated in learning in the last 12 months. Such complacency towards technology and learning new skills signals a growing risk of a digital shock to the economy. 

Dealing with new things, including technology, requires us to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn skills if we are to future-proof our careers and add value to businesses and the economy. As management accountants, we need to be mindful of our responsibilities, not only as career professionals ourselves, but also as enterprise guardians for our organisations. After all, the human capabilities of an organisation are more than a human resources issue, as a lack of the right skills and talent represent considerable non-financial risks to growing a business.

This is further borne out in the Association’s research into the future of finance. The research, involving of 300 companies and 5000 accounting professionals, highlights that skills such as communication and emotional intelligence are taking a more prominent role in organisations – they are now an essential complement to technical skills to unlock full individual and business potential. The Association plays a key role in helping students and members address their skills gaps, and adopt the right mind-set to learn, unlearn and relearn. This is why we provide access to a growing number of courses, tools and certificates, covering everything from blockchain and data analytics to soft skill areas, via our CGMA store.

Thankfully, we have not yet missed the boat and can help ourselves build and develop the careers we want with the skills we need. However, to do so we all must have an agile mind-set, technical foundation and expand our emotional intelligence skills. Failing to do so could be the difference between being part of the digital revolution or being left behind.

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