Apparently the Bank’s investment in training – which most staff have not seen any evidence of yet and are probably not likely to before they are made redundant through automation and digitisation  – is to make staff “useful” for the future. This is according to Antonio Horta-Osorio, Group Chief Executive, in a recent interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  What he was doing at Davos is anyones guess given that Lloyds Banking Group is a bit player on the international banking stage.

When he sat down with CNBC to talk the up skilling of staff ready for the jobs of the future, Mr. Horta-Osorio must have known that a few days later Lloyds was going to announce another 490 jobs were going to disappear. That’s presumably why he refused to give any assurances about jobs cuts.

In that interview, the Group Chief Executive said:

 “And the message to our staff is, as you said, many of the jobs of the future don’t exist today, and they require skills that people don’t have today, so we are massively investing in the training of our own people. So that they have those jobs in the future, either inside the bank, or outside the bank. We are giving them the skills, for them to continue to be useful and have value added in this fourth digital revolution, which is increasing at a really, really fast pace”.

The New York Times, reporting from Davos, said that executives are falling over themselves to transform their businesses into digitised, automated operations. And like Lloyds Banking Group they are seeking to divert attention away from thousands of job losses by focusing on buzzwords like “reskilling” the workforce for the future. Interestingly, a report by the World Economic Forum estimated that of the 1.37 million workers (in the US) who are projected to be fully displaced by automation in the next decade, only one in four will be reskilled by employers. The rest, presumably, will need to fend for themselves or rely on government assistance.

We know that with GSR 4 and the roll out of Thought Machine’s Vault core banking platform, thousands of jobs are going to disappear not just in branches and processing centres but in areas like finance and IT. Setting aside the arrogance of his statement – which implies that what staff are going now is useless work – where is the evidence of a reskilling revolution going on in Lloyds Banking Group? Where is this training he talks so much about? When will staff benefit from those new skills that are going to make them “useful” citizens for the future?

He talks about 600,000 hours of training but for every member of staff that equates to just over 8 hours training each per year. Is that the level of training that’s going to make staff “useful”, his word and not ours, for the future? And let us not forget, most of those 8 hours will be job specific training and will have nothing to do with the jobs of the future.

There have been successful examples of reskilling workers for the future. In a letter to shareholders last year, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer, said that more than 16,000 Amazon warehouse workers had received training in high-demand fields like nursing and aircraft mechanics, with the company covering 95% of their expenses. That’s the kind of reskilling Lloyds Banking Group – which says it wants to help “Help Britain Prosper” – should be offering its staff. All staff should be given individual training allowances, which they can use to develop new skills in those areas of work that are going to be around in the future.

The fact is that not a month goes by these days without Lloyds announcing more jobs cuts or branch closures and that’s no way to run a bank. Staff need certainty and that’s why we have been calling for the bank to publish its plans for job cuts for the next 2 to 3 years. Lloyds should then publish its plans showing how it is going to help those staff that will be displaced find alternative roles either inside or outside the bank.

We would like to hear from members about the training they have undertaken to make them fit for the future of work. How many hours of training have members had since the Lloyds announced Group Strategic Review 3 last year? What kind of training have members been offered? Members can contact the Union’s Bedford Office on 01234 262868 or they can email us at 24hours@btuonline.co.uk.

 

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