• PwC, the professional services firm, announced Monday evening that global revenues were up 7%, its workforce increased by 25,000, and that it would be investing $3 billion over the next 3-4 years in job training.
  • PwC global chairman Bob Moritz told Business Insider that the “upskilling” investment would provide a competitive advantage as a recruitment tool.
  • Moritz said that he would be able to guarantee employment to employees who engage with the training, even if their roles are lost to automation.
  • This post is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
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PwC just had a year of what its global chairman Bob Moritz called record growth, and the professional services firm paired that announcement with news that it will be investing $3 billion into job training for all of its 275,000 employees over the next 3-4 years. That amounts to $3,636-$2,727 per employee annually, depending on the final timeline.

“We’ve got to be a talent magnet,” Moritz told Business Insider on Monday, and that’s why the investment, called “New World, New Skills,” will be at the forefront of recruitment pitches.

The noted the investment is larger than Amazon’s $700 million by 2025 for 100,000 employees, and Accenture’s $1 billion annually for 482,000 employees. Moritz cited a PwC study that found 30% of all jobs are at risk of being automated by the mid-2030s, and PwC’s workforce is subject to those forces, as much as anyone else. “I think it’s a necessity because the world’s moving so fast. You lose competitive edge and brand if you don’t.”

A large training announcement is intrinsically linked with the fear of job upheaval and loss, but Mortiz said that PwC was willing to make a bold agreement with PwC employees who engage with the upskilling initiative. “If you opt in, OK, we will not leave you behind. I can’t guarantee you the specific job that you have or want to have. But I can guarantee you you’re going to have employment here.”

The $3 billion will be split among four sections: the investment required for taking employees away from clients and putting them in classrooms, the further development of digital training tools, the deployment of employees to community projects that spread the same techniques, and leveraging existing partnerships with the United Nations and World Economic Forum to help adapt the training to each of their markets around the world.

Moritz, who has been with PwC for 24 years and previously served as the US chair before taking the global role in July 2016, said the discussion for adapting its workforce for a rapidly changing environment began about five years ago. That led to upskilling efforts in different sectors a couple of years ago, and within the past year, it became clear it needed to become a global initiative.

Large firms across industries have been investing in job retraining as automation eliminates jobs, in what the WEF has popularly dubbed "the Fourth Industrial Revolution." Accenture and IBM are two such companies that similarly have developed proprietary software allowing workers to track their skills and adjust as needed by undergoing training, often in their free team, through on-demand lessons.

PwC created the role of chief digital officer in October 2017 for Joe Atkinson to oversee the development of its digital training portals and apps. This past May, Atkinson told us that PwC's US chair, Tim Ryan, gave employees the same guarantee Moritz said.

"It was probably even more powerful than we thought it was going to be because it reflects the stress and strain, and to some extent the fear, that people have that whatever they do today is going to be replaced by some technology in the future," Atkinson said. The idea then, is that there is enough foresight to determine which new primary skills PwC's employees across all of its businesses, and it's worth equipping them appropriately. "So that's where we started."