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Shift in Future Workforce Skills – an Impact of Automation

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In February 2017, Bank of America began testing its three employee-less branches to serve digital-first customers and stay connected with younger customers. This employee-less branches will give access to human, if needed, via video conference. Travelling back in time, in October 2016, Budweiser transported a truckload of beer 120 miles with a driver-less truck. In Wimbledon, IBM Watson is helping organisers and players with critical match statistics that can help them to improve on their games. In short, from Banking to means of Transport to Sports, AI is playing a bigger role in transforming the way we used to look at the businesses.

AI has impact on various field in business from marketing to sales. Whether this impact is positive or negative is a debatable topic. Automation aims at replacing routine, structured, predictable physical activities and the collection and processing the data. All these activities form basis of occupation in most of the sectors ranging from manufacturing, retails, service based companies, etc. A survey by McKinsey&Company states that, less than 5% of the occupations are entirely automated, and around 60% of occupations have at least 30% of tasks that can be automated. Most of the occupations have potential to automate their mundane tasks. A big concern is how many jobs will be created by automation related growth and how will humans and machine interact or work together. A known fact is, yes, there will be a definite shift in workforce skills in near or in distant future. But how will that happen is unknown.

Jobs at risk

Tasks which are monotonous, which can be easily automated; this can be gradually make certain job roles at risks. According to Adobe, today just 15% of enterprises are using AI. But in next 12 months, this can grow up to 31%. With this, we can be sure that entry level job which is monotonous in nature are at risk. Example of this can be of Automated LPG cylinder booking system introduced by Oil Marketing Companies. This automated system has removed the dependencies on local Gas agencies, thereby making system transparent, efficient, incorruptible and reliable. In short, with the expected growth in automation, we can expect a change in entry level jobs or change in skills of workforce.

Opportunities for Businesses

Currently, Sales jobs includes lot of human intervention and activities. A research done by McKinsey Global and Salesforce, reveals the fact that 40% of tasks within sales function can now be automated. AI can help organizations with their Lead generation qualification, and its result can have 100% accuracy. This can help organizations to save time and energy, as many sales people spent time in converting a lead. This is one aspect of Automation, but when Big Data and Advanced Analytics is used in sales, it creates magic for organizations.

There is a shift from analysis of historic data to using data to be more predictive. Analytics can help organizations to decide not only the best opportunities, but also with minimum risks involved. Suppose, that Analytics is used by majority of organizations for decision making process, then they have everything to gain.

To start with this, an organization needs a bunch of good Data Scientists for mining the data, and then they require a people with business expertise to translate that into something meaningful that the representative can act upon. This shows that there will be a shift in the skills of workforce. According to Salesforce, majority of the organizations are reluctant in shifting towards automation. Because of this, majority of jobs at entry level are manual, which has a scope of automation.

Automobile industry, once defined by a vast lunch box workforce, it is now competing for talent and beyond. Technology has surely replaced many assembly line positions, but hiring needs have expanded at other sectors of Automobile. With driverless cars and autonomous vehicles making their in roads, there is need for brightest engineers and designers. In automobile sector, the shift of workforce for many years has been from unskilled labours to skilled labours. Now, the shift will be from skilled labours to sophisticated workforce, who can offer a selective premium services offering. This is quite evident that the AI revolution will lead to new era of prosperity, creativity and well-being.

Investors are pumping money into AI

Many of the breakthrough in AI are been bought in market by Start-ups. Start-ups serve organization at minimum cost, thereby creating an opportunities for organization to automate their processes. Hence, start-ups providing AI looks lucrative to investors or Venture Capitalists and they invest money heavily in these start-ups. In short, investors are bullish on AI.

Investment into AI start-ups by Venture Capitalists has increased six times since 2000, and number of start-ups working to develop AI systems has increased 14 times since 2000.

What we can do

There is still much to know how automation will proceed and what it has to offer in future. But, we can identify areas where we can work on it.

Education and training are at top of the list. Human capital investment will surely help in educating people about AI and its application. This will make them capable enough to serve the industry even though they have used AI extensively. In coming years, jobs requiring AI skills will be on huge demand. Share of US jobs requiring AI skills has increased more than 4 times. Due to this, premier universities have started to offer AI specific courses and this has been rising since 2010.

As it is evident from graphs, students are preferring Machine Learning courses and it has become a dream course for most of them.

The current workforce, including the unemployed, should be given opportunities for re-skilling or up-skilling, with businesses taking an active in determining the skills needed and provide them with training accordingly. Continuous learning is key to sustain in market. Organizations should emphasis more on Learning and Training and get their employees skilled.

Schools should also change, identifying the future demands and future skill needs and incorporating in their academy. The education system must do more to produce a quality STEM workers and to ensure that diversity in workforce is intact.

Policy makers should also focus on cushioning the necessary transitions following in job loss by providing a safety net. A minimum wage program/policy can be incorporated. This will help the workforce to fulfil the family needs.

Human are underrated

When Tesla’s highly automated production line failed to produce cars as promised by CEO Elon Musk, prompting the incapability of Automation and Tesla’s integrity, Musk tweeted, “Human are underrated.” He blamed companies highly automated production process, which created complexity and they had to get rid of it.

In each and every field, be it sales or in automobile, human intervention is necessary. In sales, AI will help to give the salesperson with necessary leads, but human touch will remain vital to customer interaction.

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