By Roy Strik, Head of Business Development, Pearson Professional Middle East
Robots, artificial intelligence, self-drive cars – these are no longer terms from sci-fi movies. This is the reality of the future, and the future is right here.
According to World Economic Forum, we are on the cusp of Industry 4.0. For most of us, the future revolves around how technology will make people obsolete and how automation will replace human workers with machines. However, unfortunately, most of us are missing the bigger picture.
Technology and automation will indeed change the way jobs are done in the future. When robots take over the manual work, and artificial intelligence can handle tasks that earlier required a human brain, what remains to be done is different from what we do today.
According to Pearson Education's report titled "The Future of skills', around one-tenth of the workforce are in occupations that are likely to grow as a percentage of the workforce. Around one-fifth are in occupations that will likely shrink. This latter figure is much lower than recent studies of automation have suggested. This means that roughly seven in ten people are currently in jobs where we simply cannot know for certain what will happen. However, our findings about skills suggest that occupation redesign coupled with workforce retraining could promote growth in these occupations.
Skillsets of the future will require professionals to be forward-looking
What is important to understand is that the future of tomorrow does not replace humans but demands people to have the right technology acumen. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the skillset of the future. According to a Pearson study, following are the top 10 skills associated with the future occupations.
-Fluency of Ideas: Ability to come up with new ideas about a topic. Here the number of ideas matter and not their quality or creativity.
-Judgment and Decision Making: Ability to understand the cost vs. benefits of a potential idea or action and choosing the most appropriate one.
-Originality: Ability to come up with unique ideas on a given topic to creatively solve a problem. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 57% of senior leaders state the creativity is amongst the top skills needed in organizations.
-Active Learning: Using learning principles/instructional methods to come up with procedures to teach new things.
-Systems Evaluation: Ability to identify indicators of system performance and the required actions needed to improve the performance relative to the goals of the system.
-Learning Strategies: Ability to understand the implications of new information for current and future problem solving and decision making
-Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solution. A report by The World Economic Forum lists this particular skill as the number 1 skill needed to thrive in 2020 and beyond.
-Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
-Systems Analysis: Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
-Deductive Reasoning: The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
This suggests that skills like creativity, judgement, adaptability will play a critical role compared to domain-specific knowledge. While domain can be easily replaced by robots and AI, the ability for machines to handle skills like creativity is far-fetched right now.
Over the past decade, there have been incredible technology advancements – personal computers, the internet, smartphones, cars, etc. Have these automated or eliminated every aspect of a job requiring human intervention? Well, history says that’s not the case. Jobs haven’t gone away; instead, they have become complex or the scope has changed, requiring newer skills and competencies.
Hence, with AI and other technologies disrupting the market over the next five years, jobs won’t go away, but the skills needed to perform the jobs of the future will change – in some cases, drastically.
Preparing for the future requires just one thing – continuous learning. And fortunately, there exists today a wealth of resources to help professionals do this. Blended education, for example, provides a structured approach to learning on the job for all professionals, and education programs such as Pearson Professional in the Middle East allow the workforce to keep pace with the changing working environment. Similarly, the BTEC qualifications give learners both comprehensive theoretical knowledge as well as critical real-world practical skills so essential for the workplace. In fact, a BTEC course comprises 60% core units and 40% project work.
With any change also comes great opportunity. So, if specialists embrace learning new skills to stay ahead of their industry, they will position themselves to meet and exceed their goals – regardless of the technology or where they stand today.