What will the skills base of the future look like?

What will the skills base of the future look like?

The workforce of the future is going to be dependent on its adaptability. While it’s true that many jobs of today will no longer exist, in the short term, one should worry less about the relevance of a current job and rather focus on priming the next generation to follow careers that meet the needs of the technology revolution.

In today’s job market, many jobs include manual labour, tedious repetition of tasks, or basic decision-making, all of which are prime for replacement via automation or artificial intelligence. This is because a machine will almost always be better in performance at jobs of this nature. Equally however, with the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, jobs involving architecting systems, and systems maintenance, will become more important. People are also required to have a deep understanding of domains, the ability to make strategic decisions, and translate a strategy into something that machines can understand and can work towards. So, these roles will remain crucial.

While it’s difficult to name explicit jobs of the future, some essential skills will be required:

• IT and domain-based skills. The ability to understand intricacies in different domains is important to ensure that the technology we build to address problems is suitable.

• Communication skills are vital in translating ideas and a strategic vision to something tangible.

• The ability to apply logic, as well as strong problem-solving abilities, are needed to design, engineer, and bring these technologies to life.

Creativity is also something difficult to simulate in a machine. The ideation of possibilities whilst simultaneously considering the impacts of it is a complex thought-process which is difficult to simulate in a machine.

However, a study conducted by Ad agency, McCann, in Japan, pitched its creative planner to the world’s first AI creative director to develop a TV commercial. In an anonymous vote the AI creative director’s TV Ad won, using only algorithms to respond to the brief and determine the elements of the TV Ad. However, in creative scenarios such as this, the algorithms will be created by humans, so arguably, people remain at the heart of AI’s efficacy and humans with these skills remain important for the future.

This concept, of technology replacing the human mind, is a definite possibility in the distant future. We may be able to upload our minds to machines, we may develop algorithms that learn how to think generally like humans do. There are many examples of early stages of general intelligence technology today such as Google’s Alpha Go. Currently, we are harnessing automation and artificial intelligence to tackle narrow domains and contexts. As we get better at building these systems, a more general intelligence similar to the human mind becomes more realistic.

In the longer term, individuals who want to remain relevant and an asset to their organisation need to undergo a mind shift. Fundamentally, it all comes down to one thing: Innovation and future thinking.

By being open to change and harnessing it for the benefit of the organisation, every person can be an asset. Being stuck in a traditional way of thinking and doing things quickly becomes a hindrance to innovation. Often, an organisation can operate fine, unaware of its sloth, until it’s disrupted by another organisation that embraces innovation. By that time, it’s too late. Companies need to invest in skunk works, or at least the culture that encourages people to innovate from within because organisations also have a role to play in developing the skills of the future.

Being open to rethinking the way we work, the value we add, and the vision we work towards is almost expected for the future of an organisation. Be part of the revolution, or be consumed by it.

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