Expert tips for students on AI and automation-driven future work space by Joe Lam, MD, Pearson India-China Hub
Ever since the massive Covid-19 outbreak around the world, conversations regarding the future of work and future of education have been surging. The reason why these two subjects are being given this space and attention is that while the outbreak has affected almost every industry from tourism to international trade, major disruption has been felt in the way learners learn and the corporate sector functions. With most of the companies having to work from home and people having to adjust to the new ways of working remotely, academic institutions too have shifted the classes online and students and teachers are adapting themselves to make the most of their resources.
The above situation is a clear example of how our world is changing at a rapid pace day by day and will continue to do so in the future. AI and automation are constantly on the rise and a report by the World Economic Forum reveals that about five million occupations will cease to exist by 2030, as artificial intelligence and robotics replace human intervention. However, the same report revealed that more than two million new jobs will also be created due to this change and uniquely human skills will become more valuable.
What does this mean: Do skills play a role in shaping the future workplace?
If one goes around 150 years back in time, people in India can be seen travelling in bullock carts in order to move from one place to another. Fast forward to the present, and we now have roads filled with traffic & brimming with hundreds of cars every day.
What most of us fail to understand, therefore, is that the workplace has been changing and evolving since the past; it’s not a new phenomenon. While many jobs were lost during that time, it also gave rise to a new Automobile industry in the country which led to the creation of thousands of new job roles. So, it is not really about jobs getting lost. Rather, it is about the existing skill sets becoming outdated and a new set of innovative skills coming into play & gaining prominence, which further leads to the creation of new industries and new job opportunities.
Why are soft skills becoming more and more important for the future?
Conventionally speaking, job skills are largely categorized into two sections i.e, Hard Skills and Soft skills. While hard skills are generally the technical skills required to do a job, soft skills are more interpersonal and relate to an individual's ability to correlate & engage with one’s environment.
Despite the names, the irony lies within the fact that today, hard skills such as programming, coding etc. are being seen as more “soft” in the sense that they are much more fluid and get changed or obsolete all the time due to the ever evolving job market. Soft skills, on the other hand, like leadership, creative thinking, problem solvingetc. take much more effort to build and do not lose their relevance even when the nature of a job evolves.
Organizations across different industries are exploring creative yet structured ways to address their remote workers. Keeping them engaged and motivated is a challenge every L&D team is grappling with. Team management skills for both seasoned as well as first-time managers are more critical than ever. Some other skills to acquire byways of AI-driven learning intervention will be data-driven decision making, effective communication in the virtual world, workplace shift, team, management, etc.
There was a recent study by Pearson, The Global Learner Survey. What does it show?
When asked about how jobs are changing, 81% people in India believe that workers will need to improve uniquely human skills like creative thinking, reasoning & collaboration etc. to thrive in the new economy.
At least 78% of students agree that they need to develop their soft skills alongside the knowledge of STEM to prepare for tomorrow’s job market.
Thinking about how colleges and universities are preparing students today, 73% of people say that academic institutions should do more to use their expertise & increase their soft skills offerings for learners.
The underlying message seems to be that even as machines start taking over the work sphere, at the end of the day, it is the people who need to use this technology to avail its advantages to the fullest. And hence, it is important to embrace those soft skills which enable us to utilize our unique human talents, adapt to the evolving market, future-proof our careers and build and develop areas which AI can’t do well.
What else did the study indicate?
It also indicates towards the interplay that is happening between education and the future of work at an increasing rate. Simply put, people know that they need to build their soft skills to combat tech and automation in the future─ and want academic institutions to meet those needs.
Your final thoughts?
While Automation continues to reorient the nature of work, the need of the hour is to “look at education beyond obtaining/giving away degrees” and for individuals to be equipped with soft skills that will allow oneself to prepare for the future corporate world, especially in the present times where uncertainty has become all the more visible.
The advice to students and professionals onwhy theyneed soft skills in the future work space driven by AI and automation was given by Joe Lam, MD, Pearson India-China Hub
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