Once again, humanity is entering a new era – the automation era – and it’s going to affect literally everyone. The last thing we want is another Luddite Revolution – smashing up machines because we are afraid they will take up our jobs. The more reasonable (and honestly, realistic) way to approach it would be to find a way to be a part of the revolution.
Change is all around us, after all, and the statistics behind it is eye-opening. Forrester, an American research firm, estimates in the next five years, AI and robotics will replace as much as 7% of jobs traditionally run by humans. That’s about 7 million jobs in the US alone. Another country seeing a rapid transition towards an industrialized future is India. HfS, a research, and analytics company based in the US estimated the loss of 640,000 jobs in the next five years.
Although most expected job losses are in the ‘low-skilled’ bracket, there’s in fact evidence to suggest that any job that involves repetitive tasks is likely to take a hit. At the forefront of repetitive-type jobs is IT.
It’s not all bad news, however. The brighter side of things is that AI will get rid of the more mundane stuff, leaving the demanding jobs to the IT folk. The question, then, is how do you evolve your skillset to the point where you will remain relevant regardless of what happens?
Embrace the change
There’s an old tale that’s told of a sitting president putting measures in place to prevent the proliferation of cars back in the old days. This was in an effort to protect the horse-carriage industry because people were scared of the new technology stealing their jobs. The obvious lack of horse-carriages on the roads since the 1930s is a sign resisting new technology doesn’t often work out.
Already, bots are replacing people as the first line of contact in companies’ Q&A sections, with people acting as last-resort options. And the change doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Instead, why not be part of the change? Asses problems and figure out how to use tech to solve them. Don’t worry about your current job. Think more about the opportunities AI will bring.
Be completely indispensable
The only way to stay relevant is to be so valuable that it would hurt the company more if they let go of you than holding on. A study carried out by McKinsey & Company suggests that jobs that are least likely to be automated and replaced are management and specialized jobs.
Since management makes up the smaller part of any firm, the only real remaining solution is to specialize. In other words, it’s re-skill, up-skill or perish. Interestingly enough, experienced experts are more likely to pick up a new skill, with over 50% of people with 10+ years of experience learning a new specialization, according to a study by Simplilearn.
One of your personal goals should be to become as valuable as possible to people in your business – not just sitting on standby until you’re needed. Get there by seeking certification in new skills, collaborate with different teams and learn the pains and joys of being in them. In fact, feel free to branch out to different areas of expertise – HR, sales or essay writers. Network with everyone you can and become the person known for having all sorts of new ideas and improvements.
Be the bridge between human and machines
Not every aspect of IT can be replaced. Jobs that involve less interaction like data entry, customer support tickets and such tasks have been established to be at the biggest risk. On the other end of the stick, aside from people who specialize, those with diverse skills are also going to be more valuable than ever.
As such, another aspect that can never really be overtaken by full automation is teamwork. The aforementioned specialists and full stack developers will still need to be in contact with each other. Those in management will be required to collaborate with said experts to build complex applications and analyze the needs of the market.
In other words, the best reserved jobs are those that involve interacting with both humans and machines. Both people and technology are essential pieces in the game of technological advancement. AI has made inroads in many work areas but it is still a very long way from being able to negotiate budgets and think independently. Machines are still not able to brainstorms and come up with new ideas outside of a fixed set of data they are fed.
This makes a person who is, for instance, bilingual, a more valuable asset in terms of forming new networks than a machine currently is. People with such skills are going to be considered stars that can produce golden results regardless of which part of the company they are moved to.
Find new ways to solve new problems
As it’s often said, IT, and all kinds of sciences that encompass it are all about problem solving. Therefore, there’s no doubt old problems are going to be solved in new ways, but at the same time, there’s no doubt new problems are going to arise. It’s known as a ‘crisis shift’ and is a common observance is every industry, not just tech. This, ironically enough, raises another problem that needs to be solved.
As technology grows, the problems evolve, and the issues are only going to get more serious. This then calls for even more specialization to solve the now extremely sophisticated problems.
Along with picking up a new skill, improving your current skills is going to be an important aspect of the new era we are going to enter. It then creates a strange dynamic, as noted by a case study of accounting firm Deloitte. In 2017, the company created 144 more jobs from automation. ‘Dull, repetitive and mundane’ tasks were replaced via automation, only to be replaced with experts that could oversee its effectiveness.
Ultimately, whereas automation is coming – it’s inevitable, after all – there’s similarly no doubt a human aspect will always be needed in the equation.