How Companies Prepare Their Employees for the World of Work 4.0

Automation not only boosts demand for digital skills but also for social skills. Learning how to develop further education and skills training from social entrepreneurs.

Automation and digitization pose enormous challenges for companies. To remain competitive, they will have to develop entirely new forms of further education and skills training for their employees. The drastic changes will not only increase the demand for digital skills, but also for social skills. These are the key findings of a new study by non-profit organization Ashoka and McKinsey & Company. Ashoka is dedicated to promoting social entrepreneurship worldwide.

New Models for Further Education and Skills Training

The authors of the study state that companies should systematically differentiate between four forms of skills training for their employees and develop corresponding approaches for them:

  • "Upskilling“: In all existing jobs, employees need to be trained to apply new technologies. Examples include factory workers who need to be trained for using robots or digital surveillance systems.
  • "Digital reskilling“: Digitization creates completely new requirements in IT or technical professions, for example in the construction and development of robots, in cloud computing or in data processing. Companies therefore have to teach completely new skills.
  • "Human reskilling“: As the world of work changes, companies need employees who prepare their colleagues for these changes, and motivate them to learn and develop new skills. Increased empathy is also needed in dealing with customers, whose trust must be won and who need to be introduced to new offers.
  • "Meta Skills“: Self-organization, leadership, adaptability and teamwork, or creativity — these skills are fundamentally important because lifelong learning and the need to embrace and manage change are becoming increasingly important to workers in the age of digitization.

"Upskilling and reskilling are short-term measures that companies use to train their employees to respond to initial waves of technological change," said Matthias Daub, co-publisher of the study and partner at McKinsey. Meta skills, on the other hand, are skills that are needed in the long term, enabling employees to permanently adapt to change and to develop themselves further.

The study shows how a large number of innovative social entrepreneurs from the Ashoka network already succeed in teaching these skills: The Canadian tech start-up Bluenove, for example, created an online platform where big corporations can run internal large-scale debates about strategy and transformation.

A Dutch Ashoka Fellow has founded an extremely successful company, Buurtzorg Nursing Care, with more than 10,000 nurses and 4,000 care workers. "All employees are organized in around 900 independent teams," says Rainer Hoell, Partner at Ashoka Germany, describing the company. This organizational model has promoted entirely new opportunities for cooperation and knowledge sharing, with success: the company was voted Holland's most attractive employer for the fourth time in a row.

The study can be downloaded here.

About Ashoka

Ashoka is the first and world-leading organization promoting social entrepreneurs - women and men who solve pressing social problems with innovative, replicable concepts. Founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton in the US, the non-profit organization is now active in more than 90 countries. Ashoka has been active in Germany since 2003. Ashoka's vision is a society in which each individual is encouraged and supported to contribute to solving societal problems and to shaping positive change — being a changemaker.

About McKinsey

McKinsey & Company is the leading management consultancy for top management in Germany and worldwide. 27 of the 30 DAX groups are currently among the clients. McKinsey operates in Germany and Austria with offices in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart and Vienna, and with 127 offices in 65 countries worldwide.


For further information please contact:

Ashoka Germany
Laura Haverkamp, Phone: +49 176 6210 5868,
Email: [email protected]
McKinsey & Company
Kirsten Best, Phone: +49 211 136-4688,
Email: [email protected]