This post is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series
Chuck Robbins, CEO and chairman of Cisco, says the
impact of automation on jobs looms large.
Tomorrow’s workers will need different skills, and it’s
up to today’s leaders to make sure they’re trained.
Rapid technological advancements have changed the world in an
incredibly short span of time.
In the past few years, we have seen technology that has been
developed and applied in astonishing ways, opening up new
opportunities, creating new markets, and driving economic growth.
But we have also witnessed the real impact technology can have.
Innovations such as artificial intelligence and automation have
rendered some jobs unnecessary, and are changing the requirements
for what skills are needed to get certain jobs done.
In many cases, jobs once managed by individuals can now be done
by machines, whether physical labor such as operating machinery,
or office tasks like data collection and processing.
The impact looms large: Cisco and Oxford Economics recently
collaborated to examine how technological change will impact
the future of work in the U.S., and our research has revealed
that about 4.3 million workers will be displaced by 2027, with an
additional 2.2 million workers disrupted, resulting in a total of
6.5 million job moves.
Additionally, according to the World Economic Forum’s report on workforce
re-skilling, one in four adults reported a mismatch between
the skills they have and the skills they need for their current
job. At the same time a whole range of new roles will emerge in
industries such as healthcare, technology, and media, and new
skills will be required to meet the requirements of those jobs,
It is clear that we must address this challenge to ensure the
continued strength of economies around the world. Companies,
industries, and governments must commit to building skilled
workforces to ensure that the transition through this shift
doesn’t leave our greatest asset — our people — behind.
I particularly believe that it is especially incumbent upon
business leaders to take a stand — without the talent needed to
drive our companies forward, no one company will be successful.
We must look at how we can work across the technology industry,
and across every industry, to unite our collective strengths in
addressing this issue. Successful collaboration just requires the
will, and the commitment to see it through.
Several of us have taken the first step. At this year’s World
Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 11
companies have joined efforts to help train workers of the
Founding partners for this initiative include Accenture, CA
Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise,
Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy
As a group, we are opening up key elements of our individual
training libraries into one centralized portal called SkillSET,
where users will have free access to the most up-to-date
self-paced training materials, ranging from general business
skills to deep focus on cyber-security, big data, or Internet of
The portal will offer a tailored Digital Fitness Assessment,
developed by PwC, to help users determine which coursework and
learning pathways best fit their current skill set and learning
goals. Our goal is to impact one million people over the next few
By pooling our training and education resources and funding job
reskilling for workers displaced by technology and automation, we
are committed to making sure that workers can access new pathways
to career success.
New technology provides us with an incredible opportunity. Making
connections — bringing people, and things online securely—yields
endless possibilities. But while technology has incredible
capability to be applied to do amazing things, it is people that
come first, and this matters more than ever.
In my view, no one person, or company, can devise all solutions
alone. Our fractured world might seem fragile, but it is
possible to create solutions to the issues that vex us locally,
and globally. It just requires us — particularly those of us who
lead companies around the world — to roll up our sleeves and work
By building this initiative, 11 global companies are doing just
that, and I am excited to see the impact we can make.
Chuck Robbins is CEO and chairman of Cisco.