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Education Updated: 07 Feb 2018

What will work be like in the future?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is radically transforming the job market. And it’s raising the same doubts that the three previous revolutions did. One of the most broadly debated questions is: what will the job market of the future be like?

According to José Manuel González-Páramo, BBVA’s Executive Board Director and Chief Officer, Global Economics; Regulation and Public Affairs, this revolution will create new opportunities and will also require workers and businesses to reinvent themselves. One of the most pressing challenges it poses is the development of an educational system that meets the needs of the labor market.

One thing is undeniable: The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a disruptive impact on the job market. This was one of the key insights shared by BBVA’s Executive Board Director during the European Summit, organized by Cotec Foundation for Innovation, in Mafra (Portugal). The event brought together a host of personalities and political figures, including King Felipe VI of Spain, and the presidents of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Italy, Sergio Mattarella. José Manuel González-Páramo was part of a panel on “Accelerating Labor 4.0 in organizations,” hosted by Financial Times journalist John Gapper.

We do need to recruit specific talent, such as data scientists, but there are other skills we can develop internally

José Manuel González-Páramo called for the creation of a system capable of educating people in skills such as emotional intelligence and teamwork. In the case of BBVA, he explained that internal communication has been pivotal for helping employees understand their “role in a bank 4.0” and in promoting the development of new digital skills. “We do need to recruit specific talent, such as data scientists, but there are other skills we can develop internally,” he said.

González Páramo also advocated for “agile, liquid and flat” organizations, with hierarchies or statuses based, not so much on employee seniority, but on the delivery of results. He also noted the importance of offering career plans and a good balance between professional and personal life. All this is “very challenging" for businesses and González-Páramo expressed he is “very satisfied” with the progress BBVA has made in this field.

José Manuel González-Páramo during the European Summit, organized by Cotec Foundation for Innovation, in Mafra (Portugal) - BBVA

BBVA's experience in the transition to the new environment

The digital transformation has required businesses to adapt from a strategic, technological and cultural standpoint, as José Manuel González-Páramo pointed out. In the case of BBVA, the institution has promoted a cultural shift that is highly linked to the new ways of working.

How? BBVA has evolved towards an organization with fewer hierarchical levels and less defined frontiers, in which some of the bank’s most prominent leaders are heading small, high-impact, teams. The implementation of the agile methodology for the execution of projects and changing the ways of working towards multidisciplinary teams are examples of this. Along these lines, BBVA has adapted its workspaces, with open-plan offices without communication barriers (part of the "We are one team” philosophy.)

The institution has developed a model that puts the right resources and tools in the hands of its employees, to allow them to design their own professional career and training. The aim of this model is to bridge the widening gap between the employee profiles the market demands and the education students receive at universities. This trend, noted González-Páramo, leads companies to create their own corporate universities, such as Campus BBVA.

BBVA also faces the challenge of attracting new digital talent and integrating it with the talent that already exists in the institution, in order to form multidisciplinary teams capable of working together effectively. And last, but not least, the balance between professional and personal life is crucial to attract and retain talent, especially among new generations. BBVA has been promoting measures to facilitate this balance, such as flexible working hours and teleworking.