Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the buzzwords of the moment. We hear about self-driving cars and a world of automation where chatbots run call centres and respond to customer queries. Much of this technology is new to the marketplace, but predictions are that these are only the start of things to come. So where does that leave people just entering the job market? What future career prospects will our children have, and how can we prepare them to have the future job skills needed to survive in a machine dominated future?
The difference between Humans and Machines
There are many things that machines can do much better than humans, like search vast volumes of data and make mathematical calculations. But their abilities are governed by one major factor – rules. Machines work on programming and predictive learning based on historical data. If new factors come into to the mix, they are ill equipped to manage them.
Humans on the other hand are highly adaptable and can apply knowledge creatively to find solutions to new problems. This type of problem solving ability is what will be the key to humans continuing to add value in the workplace. As much as we’d like to think modern lifestyles are easy to control, plan for and schedule, there remains a high level of unpredictability to life. In addition there are many work sectors in which it will be hard to replace humans with machines. These are the things to be taken into consideration when teaching our children future job skills.
Future Job Skills lie in Human Value:
There are several types of jobs that require strong interpersonal skills and this is not something that machines can’t easily mimic. Think of social professions such as psychology or emergency services, for example.
In the event of an accident, natural disaster or fire, no one can fully understand the situation until they arrive on scene. Additionally as the situation unfolds, circumstances can change. Patients may respond well to treatment or not, what was a stable and safe environment on arrival can quickly become unsafe. Only humans can effectively manage such circumstances because they have the knowledge and instinct to be able to make decisions and adapt according to the circumstances. This highlights an important future job skill: The ability to think on your feet and adapt knowledge and decision making to changing circumstances.
A second important future job skill is visualisation and planning – the ability to create perspective, design, create and coordinate ideas so that they become reality. Architects, engineers, even graphic designers and advertising agencies require human creativity and this is a skill worth developing. Machines may be able to take over many tasks, but it is still human thinking that envisioned them doing that in the first place. Creativity, design, and engineering are important future job skills that humans do best.
Nature and nurture – there is a limit to how much we (or machines) can control the natural world and because of that there will always be opportunities for humans to step in and make a difference. The environment remains constantly in flux. One only has to view the ever changing weather patterns to see that. As much as we’d like to use equipment to predict what will happen, in the end, nature remains unpredictably in control.
Careers involved in the environmental sector will rely on human expertise from conservation, through to legal management and control as well as the field of medicine. Despite advances, new bugs and diseases consistently appear and old viruses re-emerge, stronger than ever. The human body responds individually to treatments with emotional and mental influences proving to be just as important as physiological factors. As a result, humans will remain valuable in the field of natural sciences. Related future job skills may include scientific knowledge and study, social skills, legal skills as well as management and understanding all varieties of interlinked ecosystems.
Business and economics is another field that remains largely unpredictable. While markets may be manipulated and influenced, consumers react of their own accord, and because they are human the outcomes can never truly be certain. Take last year’s Brexit vote for example. Nobody thought the result would be “no”, and economic predictions based on that result were ominous. Yet many of those fears have proven to be unfounded. While certain sectors took a knock, others have shown to be resilient, growing exponentially despite conservative economic movements. Business thinking, particularly in the entrepreneurial realm will remain important future job skills, as well as that of managers, analysts and economists.
In the future there will be many opportunities to work with machines to achieve better outcomes, and there will also be careers and areas of expertise that will remain firmly in human hands. Rather than fear machines and the impact they may have, the most important future job skills may involve using instinctive human potential to think creatively and seek out opportunities even where there appear to only be challenges.
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