AI is entering the workplace and robots are increasingly part of the new workforce. The effect on jobs is still uncertain. One study found that 9% of jobs in developing countries and 20% in developed countries can probably be done by robots. Most financial workers, including accountants and loan officers, will be among those who lose their jobs to machines. Low-skilled factory workers already are being replaced by robots. Telemarketers, operating room nurses, bus drivers, and models are probably on their way out, too.
Another recent study claims that no jobs will be completely taken over by robots. On average, this study concluded, 30% of the tasks involved in a job can be automated. Robot fry cooks, for example, do a whiz-bang job of cooking burgers, but they can’t put lettuce and tomato on the bun. Humans have to scurry along behind them and get the burger ready to eat.
Office workers, lower level administrators, and unskilled service workers will find that their jobs are consolidated. Fewer jobs will be available, and those that survive may require greater flexibility.
The skills gap
At the same time, there is a growing need for experts in robotics and automation.
Can the accountants just learn to be robotics experts? A one-to-one shift of displaced workers to new high tech job might be ideal, but it’s also unlikely. The STEM training programs that have been successfully put into schools aren’t currently working out as expected. Instead of providing a STEM-savvy labor pool for their communities, they’re shipping their top students off to places that have good jobs requiring a STEM background. Competition for tech jobs in those communities continues to be high. Employers in the STEM deserts continue to have trouble hiring qualified people.
21st century soft skills
One possible solution is to focus on training people in the top clusters of 21st century soft skills:
- Critical Thinking
The theory is that these skills will prime their owners to learn whatever additional skills need to be learned. Instead of training office workers in robotics, companies can train them in creativity and critical thinking. Then, when specific skills are needed, the office workers who are losing their jobs to robots will be more prepared to learn to operate robots. Bright, collaborative baristas with great communication skills will be able to step up and innovate in the Industry 4.0 factory.
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