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Collision 2019: The future of work

John Hill, CIO of Rogers Communications, shared his insights on how technology will impact the job market, how people will work and learn, and what they’ll be looking for from their employers.

Speakers sitting on a stage at the collision conference

Collision is a tech conference that’s about a lot more than just technology—it’s about how technology will impact businesses, not just in terms of their bottom lines, but in terms of how the employees of those businesses will work.

And that’s exactly what John Hill, CIO of Rogers Communications, spoke about as part of the “Future of work” panel, moderated by CNN Business’s Ashley O’Brien. Accompanied by leaders from HR software companies, Lever, Ceridian, and, John had a lot of insightful things to say about how technology will disrupt the job market, the future of on-the-job training and what the ideal workplace will look like.

In John’s view, the technologies driving the biggest shifts in the job market, especially for telecommunications, are 5G, AI, cloud and cybersecurity. “We've been training and hiring across key skill sets, all of which have a technology shortage of labour,” said John, “but getting the core experts and having them retained and kept motivated has always been a challenge in any organization. Access to new technology and tools, making sure that they're equipped with what they need, those are the key elements.”

On the topic of on-the-job training, John said that, because technology evolves so fast, employees can’t be expected to spend days or weeks learning the fundamentals of something new. “People have to take hold of something that they're very interested in doing and very passionate about. And I actually think the best opportunity to excel in the workplace is to take that and teach other people.” John said that when people take to learning something they’re truly interested in, and spread that knowledge to others, that’s how an organization develops strength in a particular subject.

And of course, it helps when an organization offers employees a lot of different interests to choose from and has the technology to keep their employees up-to-date on those interests. “Organizations that have opportunities for people to change jobs, and having access to new technology that keeps them current, is a huge advantage versus being a siloed structure,” he said.

When it came to the topic of remote workforces, John stressed that the trend isn’t simply a matter of working from home or some other remote site instead of working in the office. Rather, it’s more nuanced than that, especially in tech. “Obviously, technology advancements support any type of remote distance worker,” he said, “but there's something about being in a room in full collaboration. A lot of organizations are now shifting back towards a pod environment.”

When asked to provide advice to companies looking to future-proof, John stressed the need for employee options within the organization. “The opportunity to move within an organization is key. People want to have options when they come in and not get siloed in the structure.”