According to an investigation of TriFinance : ● 70% of… View Article

According to an investigation of TriFinance :

● 70% of young people think that technology makes their work easier, but 4 out of 10 older people claim they cannot keep up with the constant introduction of new technologies.
● 90% of employees earning more than 4,000 euros gross work digitally all day long.
● Only 2 out of 10 employees without a secondary education diploma fear that their job could be robotized – and that is a potential problem.  »
This appears from a TriFinance survey conducted by iVox among a group of 1,000 employees in a representative sample of the Belgian labour force in terms of age, gender, education and region.

 » The digital divide among employees in Belgian businesses remains wide. There are two types of divide: between young and old on the one hand, and between highly skilled and semi- and unskilled workers on the other. As far as the first category is concerned, people over 55 and people under 35 appear to have a fundamentally different view of technology at work. Whereas young people feel they improve in their job thanks to all the new technologies, 1 in 4 older people say that the growing number of technological applications makes them less able to understand what they are actually doing. A second remarkable finding is that blue-collar workers and the low-skilled are not at all worried about automation or robotization: only 2 on 10 employees without a secondary school diploma fear that their job is susceptible to robotization. 

Digital is the new normal, but not for everyone

Half of the Belgian employees spend almost all day in front of a computer screen. In specific service sectors such as IT, media, banking, financial services and consulting, but also in the government sector, this figure rises to almost 9 out of 10 employees.

Conversely, 6 out of 10 blue-collar workers say that they rarely if ever do computer work during a typical working day. They are generally employees from sectors such as the food industry, metalworking, textiles, distribution and transport. Moreover, 70 % of employees in the non-profit sector spend little or no time in front of a computer. 

There is a clear link between digital work and educationjob and salary. An entire day of computer work is normal for 60 percent of university graduates and white-collar workers with a university-level degree, just like for 67% of middle management. Of people earning more than 4,000 euros gross, almost 9 out of 10 work digitally all day long.

The digital divide between young and old

The digital divide between young and old is not in the first place reflected in the number of young or older people working with computers: of the under-35s, 6 in 10 spend their entire working day at the computer, but even among the over-55s, this ratio is 4 in 10. 

Computer work is the new normal,’ says Jean-Marie Bequevort, Internal Audit and Business Organization expert at TriFinance. ‘This is logical consequence of the digitization of the economy that is manifesting itself especially in the services sector, but equally in the government sector. We live in a knowledge-based economy and it is of the utmost importance to close the digital divide between young and old and between the higher and lower educated. In the coming years, we will have to make the shift from mapping people to jobs to mapping skills to work.’

Indeed, the survey shows that 1 in 4 older employees feel that all the new technologies make them less able to understand what they are actually doing, while just as many over-55s feel they have become a ‘brainless machine’ because of the routine tasks they have to perform on the computer. Compared with younger employees, twice as many over-55s (18-34: 13%, 55-64: 26%) feel that they are only working with machines, not with people. They also experience greater powerlessness vis-à-vis technology in the workplace, while 4 out of 10 over-55s say they cannot keep up with the constant introduction of new technologies.

Under-35s take a totally different view of technology. Half (48%) say that new technologies give them a better insight into their work, and almost 1 in 2 (46%) also think that technology enables them to do their work better. Younger employees also indicate more frequently that they actually want to better understand the technology they use during their working hours. A remarkable finding is that 4 in 10 young people say they have acquired more time to devote to colleagues and other people thanks to technological solutions. 

The divide is becoming especially noticeable in the mindset and the view of technology of the various age groups,’ says Toon Borré, Data Expert at TriFinance. ‘Older employees clearly find it hard to keep up with technological developments. Conversely, businesses don‘t always succeed in integrating the digital transformation into theircorporate culture. Companies having a digital culture and a data culture will do everything in their power to make their people, whatever their age, understand that digital technology and data are essential for achieving the organization’s goals. This also implies training and retraining where necessary.’

Blue-collar workers are not afraid of automation

Another remarkable finding is that blue-collar workers and the low-skilled are not at all worried about automation and robotization: only 2 in 10 employees without a secondary school diploma fear that their job is susceptible to robotization, while 4 in 10 blue-collar workers are of the opinion that robotization in any case poses no threat to their job.

Although digital technology is playing an increasingly prominent role among highly skilled employees, it is often assumed that the automation wave will hit the hardest in sectors employing more low- and medium-skilled people,‘ says Alexander Van Caeneghem, Business Unit leader CFO Services at TriFinance. ‘How are we going to prepare these people for the automation and robotization wave? Blue-collar workers may currently spend little time working with ICT applications, but will this still be a realistic picture within five years, in an era in which technological development is almost exponential? According to the SERV, the Social and Economic Council of Flanders, our country’s poorer ranking in the European Digital Economy and Society 2018 Index is not the result of a decline in Belgium, but of greater progress in other countries in our reference group. A catch-up movement is therefore necessary.’

About the survey

On behalf of CFO Services TriFinance, iVox organized an online survey among 1,000 employees (blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, middle management) representative of the Belgian working population in terms of age, gender, education and region. The survey ran from 26 April to 11 May 2018. It has an error margin of 3.02%. 

More information

Dirk van Bastelaere, Communication Manager CFO Services TriFinance, 0498 946 952,