Despite 92-year-old investor Warren Buffett revealing he was impressed by AI’s vast capabilities, he was also apprehensive about the technology as he believes “AI will change everything in the world, except how men think and behave. And that’s a big step to take.”
This change is set to usher in disruption at a scale not seen since the industrial revolution, with a report by Goldman Sachs stating that 300 million jobs will be eliminated by AI.
However, any technological change also presents an opportunity—60 percent of jobs today did not exist in the 1940s, which is a perfect example of how humans can adapt to something like AI, embrace new skills and use the technology to our benefit.
A recently released report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘The Future of Jobs Report 2023’ highlighted the skills required by the workforce in the next decade and how AI will create new jobs for people.
The skills we need
With the rise of AI, there’s going to be significant change in employment skills required in the next few years. There will still be a demand for data literate and numerate people. However, what they will be expected to do will change. From being programmers and data scientists, these roles will morph into controlling the strategic use of AI, as well as confirming and supervising the output of AI.
The new skills will involve people using data in different and more creative ways, like Dolby Atmos that allows you to have cinema sound effects in your living room with sound as packets of data positioned in a 3D space.
Among the top job skills in demand, the WEF report mentioned analytical thinking; creative thinking; resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; curiosity and lifelong learning; technological literacy; dependability and attention to detail; empathy and active listening; leadership and social influence; quality control; systems thinking; AI and big data; talent management; and service orientation and customer service.
Commenting on the report, Saadia Zahidi told CNBC: “In part that is happening not because these are unsafe, low-paid, low-skilled jobs around the world. These are higher skilled, higher value add jobs enabled by technology.”
For the jobs that AI will create, the report specifically mentioned that driven by AI, the biggest drivers of job growth in the next five years will be encryption and cybersecurity, along with big data analytics, climate change and environmental management technologies. Almost 75 percent of companies surveyed are expected to adopt the technology.
The jobs of the future
To support the AI-enabled future of work, a number of jobs will be critical.
1. Digital transformation specialists who are changing the decades-old practices are in demand these days. Collaborations and partnerships with technology and services companies like HCLTech reduce friction in digitalization efforts, but also ensures that higher management gets to explore modern ways to improve efficiency in the existing workforce.
2. AI will be used to monitor and drive sustainability targets. This will enable specialist engineers in the field of renewable energy and solar energy, as well as the analysts and environmentalists who keep a tab on GHG emissions, these roles are in high demand now as sustainability and green moves are among top priorities in leading organizations.
The environment is the ticking bomb that everyone fears now and organizations have been scaling up their efforts in their own way to tackle this menace that humans have contributed to for so long. Global warming must be tackled and there are a lot of theoretical models and start-up companies using AI to tackle these problems.
3. Demand for specialists—who design, develop and implement AI and ML systems—will increase by 40 percent (approximately one million jobs), according to the WEF report.
4. Adoption of frontier technologies—that extensively rely on big data—is witnessing significant advances and growth and are the key drivers for the shift to the AI-enabled future of work. Therefore, there would be a surge of 30-35 percent in demand for job roles like data analysts and scientists, data engineers, big data specialists, business intelligence analysts, and database and network professionals.
As an example of the changing requirements in the modern workforce, car mechanics have had to become computer literate, as each car needs to be diagnosed via its onboard computers. The latest generation of e-vehicles is constantly transmitting data, allowing real-time analysis and enabling the servicing of vehicles whilst driving.
What does this mean to skills the workforce needs?
Regardless of age, priority has to focus on access to continuous learning. This means targeted programs depending upon skills and age. No one in the workforce can afford to be left out, from the factory floor where robots are taking over, to the back-office where the latest wave of AI is going to hit hardest, to the CXOs who will be dealing with a remote and automated staff.
There have been dramatic moves regarding data and analytics during the pandemic and it is due to its drive value along with the sudden spike in AI.
5. However, with organizations taking their operations to digital and shifting their storage to the cloud, this significant amount of data needs security and that is where organizations need gatekeepers, like information security analysts who are focused on protecting their company from any kind of cyberthreat, making sure that sensitive data does not end up with criminals.
6. Close to information security analysts are fintech engineers whose work is equally security-focused, as they test and implement new products while following the rules and regulations to secure customers’ sensitive data.
Recently, HCLTech and Temenos, a leading banking software company, have expanded their partnership to accelerate the digital transformation of banks and other financial institutions.
7. Worldwide, digital transformation has a major share in the financial sector as new technologies, especially data and analytics and AI-ML, are easing tedious and time-consuming work. A variety of engineers is required when an organization from the financial sector undergoes a digital transformation.
Despite the emergence of these roles, there is still a lack of numerate people able to carry out their function successfully. This is especially true of the developing world, where AI can make the biggest impact. The major problem is that so many people are put off by mathematics at an early age, as it tends to be theoretical and not applied.
Learning appropriate mathematics depending upon where your affinity may lie is of utmost importance. For example, there are some people who do not understand algebra, so why worsen it by trying to teach them something they will never use? Changing this attitude, and streaming children appropriately will massively aid the AI transformation.
8. Next comes robotic engineers who design, build and program autonomous machines that perform a wide range of tasks. In this age of augmented intelligence, the incorporation of computer vision and natural language processing is an intelligent move as machines ease human work.
The retail and fast-food sectors saw an explosion in the number of delivery companies during the pandemic, all promising food, beverages or groceries within 30 minutes. After the pandemic, a lot of these companies went bankrupt, as they had unsustainable business models. With the return to work and a decrease in the amount of time people have, humans are going to be looking for someone to take this mundane chore off us. The next time it’s going to be robots delivering goods rather than humans.
9. Even though there’s a growing demand for robotics engineers with automation in aerospace, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, an organization will need electrotechnology engineers who not only design and direct the operation of electronic, electrical and telecommunication systems, but are also responsible for maintaining and repairing these systems in sectors like mining, manufacturing and IT.
There’s some degree of AI and automation currently in the mining, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors, but there are still miners at the coal face. All of the natural resource extraction has a finite lifetime, so there is going to be significant investment in getting more out of existing sites and reusing old sites.
10. Lastly, the increase in global population has seen an increase in demand for food production and enhancement in agricultural productivity. This gives rise to the development of new farm equipment that increases efficiency and reduces labor costs. Here’s where agricultural equipment operators come to the picture who operate complex machinery and eases the daily work.
Farming is certainly one industry that is beginning its AI journey, but more disruption is ahead. Typically, two-thirds of the population is involved in farming in the developing world, compared to less than five percent in the developed world. Large-scale farms are more efficient but tend to cause more environmental damage.
How is HCLTech helping its employees with upskilling programs?
Upskilling and reskilling employees are among HCLTech’s top priorities, with the emphasis across data engineering, as well as AI. HCLTech has over a thousand trained data scientists.
Nearly 1,71,000 employees were trained on digital, technical, professional, managerial and leadership skills in FY’23.
Among the suite of talent development courses HCLTech has are TechBee Program, Graduation Program, PG Program, MOU Programs with Colleges, Sustainability School, Fresher Hire Trainings and Career Building Focused Training.