TECHNOLOGY has fundamentally changed the way we run our businesses. From data-driven decision making to automation, modern firms now infuse almost all aspects of their daily operations with technology in order to remain competitive.
The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ describes the blurring of boundaries between physical, digital and biological worlds. It is a fusion of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing and other technologies. There are both benefits and challenges to the transformations taking place as a result, but of significance to us in this article, is the impact of all this automation on people.
Many jobs will be lost to automation but at the same time, exciting new jobs are being created. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a mostly positive impact on the future of work. It will allow us to focus on more meaningful tasks and help people across every industry complete their jobs to a higher standard. However if this transformation is not managed with wisdom and empathy, we risk widening the digital divide and creating even greater inequality.
“These transformations, if managed wisely, could lead to a new age of good work, good jobs and improved quality of life for all, but if managed poorly, pose the risk of widening skills gaps, greater inequality and broader polarisation” World Economic Forum 2018
According to the World Economic Forum, over the next ten years, 1.2 billion employees worldwide will be affected by the adaptation of automation technologies and AI. A study by McKinsey Global Institute reported that roughly one fifth of the global workforce will be impacted, with the most significant impact being felt in developed nations. By 2022, it is estimated that 50 per cent of companies will decrease their numbers of full-time staff in favour of automation, and by 2030, robots are expected to replace 800 million workers across the world. Some industries will be more impacted than others, in particular the transport and logistics sector.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to companies employing specialist contractors and implementing remote work. This will allow them to recruit a global workforce, increase employee loyalty and commitment, scale at a quicker pace and reach new levels of productivity.
Data analytics, smart building and other tech solutions will help firms become more environmentally friendly, reduce emissions and waste, read and predict customer needs and trends. When it comes to talent acquisition and HR, intelligent screening software helps firms process large volumes of CVs – it examines skill sets and attributes, and can even pull information from social media profiles.
However, while robots may be better at quickly, efficiently and safely completing physical and predictable tasks, they lack social and cognitive skills. They can work as ‘chat-bots’ to answer questions and complaints within a given framework, but they lack the empathy to adequately support or care for customers and patients. As a result, roles that involve recognising cultural sensitivities, caring for others, creative or complex reasoning or perception and manipulation are unlikely to be automated. So, social workers, nurses, nuclear engineers, teachers and writers can rest assured that they won’t be replaced by robots any time soon.
It is important to note that rather than being replaced by computers, most workers will work alongside rapidly evolving machines. The future of work will see a shift in demand away from office support positions, machine operators, and other low-skill professions and towards technology professionals such as computer engineers and information communication technology (ICT) specialists.
So how can individuals prepare themselves for these new jobs? How can we future proof our careers? How can we participate in this ‘re-skilling revolution’? According to the World Economic Forum there are five things we know about the jobs of the future:
1Not every emerging job requires hard tech skills, but every emerging job does require basic tech skills such as digital literacy, web development or graphic design.
2Although they aren’t growing as quickly as tech-dominated jobs, talent acquisition specialists, customer success specialists and social media assistants are among the fastest growing professions – all roles that rely on more diverse skill sets, especially soft skills.
3While there will be a diversity of opportunities for workers of all backgrounds and educational levels, analysis shows a worrying gender imbalance in those obtaining the required new skills. There are significant gender gaps in emerging jobs, with the share of women represented across cloud, engineering and data jobs well below 30per cent.
4untapped talent in ‘sub-groups’ such as genetic engineering, data science, nanotechnology and human-computer interaction – could expand the pipeline of talent for the broader set of tech roles.
5Closing the skills and gender gaps depends on a lot more than just making sure people have the right skills. It’s a simple truth that who you know matters – your network is as important as ever.
Additionally, individuals need to identify and build the skills that are required by employers in the ‘new normal’ – creativity, complex problem solving, critical thinking, people management, emotional intelligence, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility.
There is a need to develop and implement up-skilling initiatives, with meaningful involvement from business leaders and the private sector. The changes brought by automation and AI do not need to be negative. With increased and targeted up-skilling, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is an opportunity to build a more inclusive future of work.
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce thanks our member, Lara Quentrall-Thomas, Chairman, Regency Recruitment Limited for contributing this article. E-mail her at [email protected]
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