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Tackle the labor shortage head on using smart technology

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
digitalisering arbeidsmarkt

Anyone who follows the news cannot help but be aware of the unprecedented nature of the current labor market shortage. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) recently reported that, for the first time since labor statistics started being recorded, there are more jobs available than there are job seekers. Let’s not forget that the coronavirus caused an unprecedented crisis and that certain sectors (e.g., the travel and events industries) are still struggling.

This makes a report from Business News Radio (BNR) all the more striking: the still struggling airline KLM, which was forced to undergo a drastic reorganization last year in order to deal with COVID-19, is now desperately looking for IT professionals. In the automotive sector, which also faced strong headwinds during the lock-downs and because of stalled deliveries of microprocessors, the labor shortage has now reached a critical level as BOVAG reports. One in five auto repair companies have reported that business operations are in jeopardy – the number of employees who could start tomorrow doubled to 4,600 within just one quarter! According to the industry’s trade association, the shortage is caused, in part, by an aging labor force.

Increasing numbers of older workers on the labor market

Throughout Europe, there is a debate about the appropriate age for retirement. Two factors play a role in this: Not only the actual age at which people stop working but also whether a supplementary pension has been established (for example, with the employer). In the Netherlands, we are already responding quite effectively to the ‘gray wave’ that appears to be sweeping over us. According to Statistics Netherlands, 300,000 people over the age of 65 are still working. That is 100,000 more than only five years ago. This is also happening increasingly more often in other countries. However, this development does not offer sufficient relief either in the Netherlands or abroad. Even if the large numbers part-time workers (e.g., in healthcare and education) began working a few more hours per week, there would still be no solution in sight. In short, employers must take account of thus structural scarcity. Something else is needed in order to do this: technology.

Labor market benefits from digitalization

I would like to share a positive observation: the current labor shortage shows that fear of digitalization, automation, and even robotization is unfounded. In fact, digitalization is more necessary than ever. Not in order to render employees obsolete (that is the traditional fear among many) but rather to ensure that certain tasks can still be carried out at all.

The digitalization of relatively simple, repetitive tasks clearly offers possibilities. As I wrote in my previous blog [link to the first blog about scarcity], it is convenient for travelers to be able to check in for a flight from home rather than having to stand in a long line at the gate for half an hour. The resulting increase in customer satisfaction goes hand in hand with lower costs and increased efficiency for the airline. This is achieved with the intelligent use of IT, among other things. We also see this in healthcare. For example, our company created an app that allows healthcare institutions to on-board patients from home. This prevents unnecessary strain on the healthcare staff, and the clients experience registering from home as less burdensome than when done at an anonymous counter on the day of admission.

Joint proposition

In other sectors too, we are seeing innovations that combine convenience for the customer or user with labor shortage solutions. Take local governments, for example. Municipalities and water boards, among others, are rapidly developing self-service portals that provide a direct link between the organization in question and a financial institution. A joint proposition is created.

Citizens receive a digital invoice and pay it by clicking on a link, scanning a QR code, or directly from an app. The process becomes much simpler for the customer (citizen).  This helps illustrate how financial service providers and relevant government agencies are collaboratively working out a proposition. Banks are making a real effort to get e-invoicing widely adopted and accepted. This means much less work for both the finance department and the billing agency. After all, they are also experiencing staffing shortages.

Adoption of iPaaS

IT is what makes these developments possible. This is especially true given that it is now possible to exchange information between systems via APIs. And also because partners in a chain can make use of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions. This element should not be underestimated. Using PaaS, third-party providers offer their customers an environment to create, host, and deploy applications, thereby protecting developers from the complexity of the infrastructure side (e.g., setting up, configuring, and managing elements such as servers and databases).

PaaS thus improves the speed at which an app is developed and allows the end customer to focus on the application itself. This is where the labor market aspect comes back into play. With PaaS, the customer manages applications while the provider manages run-time, middleware, the operating system, virtualization, servers, storage, and networking within the platform.

There are many benefits to adopting PaaS. With its iPaas and IaaS solutions, Yenlo has now helped hundreds of companies across all industries to implement integration strategies and simplify operational processes.

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