70% of French civil servants will see job impacted by digitisation

23 January 2019 Consultancy.eu

A study commissioned by the French government shows that up to 70% of civil servants could see their jobs change profoundly with the rise of automation and digitisation. All professions, from clerks and teachers to police officers, are set to be impacted.

Under the direction of French President Emmanuel Macron, the government has set bold digitisation targets. From services provided by central ministries and local councils to both businesses and nationals, to the way semi-public services such as teaching and safety are provided – all areas are lined up for modernisation. While this will have far reaching benefits for France’s 67 million strong population, it will also impact the professional lives of the country’s more than 3.5 million civil servants, warns a new report conducted by Roland Berger and Wavestone

On the request of the ‘Direction interministérielle de la transformation publique (DITP)’ – France’s governmental unit tasked with leading the country’s state-driven digital transformation agenda – the consulting firms explored how digital will impact the daily activities of civil servants, and assessed to what extent the skills needed for their job will change. The researchers found that, with the current pace of change and skills in place, more than 70% of the investigated workforce could see their job changed substantially or even radically in the coming years.

70% of French civil servants will see job impacted by digitisationNot surprisingly, the roles most up for disruption are back-office functions at public sector institutions such as reception workers and customer service agents. Another group of professionals touted for a 'radically different future' are teachers. The study highlights how virtual and digital training could reduce the need for physical teaching, while leveraging emerging technologies could transform the way children/students are taught. While the authors don’t expect the number of teaching jobs to decline, demand for tech-savvy professionals – those able to master technology to offer a more personalised learning path – will rise quickly, meaning that the skill-set required to be successful in the future will be drastically different to the current one. 

Other groups of professionals taken under scrutiny include nurses and policemen. The latter group will see the impact of high-tech, including artificial intelligence and predictive software, overhaul how they perform their job, in particular those at the forefront of crime-fighting and case resolution. With the rapid and continued rise of cybercrime, a whole set of new functions and skills will also enter the police mix. 

According to previous studies conducted for the French government, the automation of tasks could displace up to 3 million jobs in France in the coming 3-5 years. Re-assessing the question of potential job losses in the broader public sector arena was however not part of the remit of Roland Berger and Wavestone. 

Beyond the public landscape, digitisation is also one of the top theme’s on the agenda of private sector enterprises. By tapping into the insights and efficiencies that can be unlocked through digitisation, companies strive to keep a competitive edge on their rivals and innovate themselves towards a future-proof business model. Digital transformation however is notoriously hard to realise and embed, with Capgemini Invent finding that one key reason for failed ambitions lies in the lack of leadership capabilities, despite a relatively high willingness of CEOs to take personal ownership for digital endeavours.

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