There is a greater need for technical skills than ever before as technology continues to transform careers and every sector of our economy.
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The way we think about work, employment and skills is rapidly evolving in our digital-first world. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are shaping the way we work, learn, shop, socialise and much more. There is a greater need for technical skills than ever before as technology continues to transform careers and every sector of our economy.
From agriculture to zoology, emerging technologies like AI have the potential to revolutionise our efficiency and productivity, improve outcomes, create entirely new jobs and free us up to focus our time and energy on higher impact, more valuable tasks and innovation.
A look at how the workforce has changed over time helps us understand the impact of technology on the labour market, underlining the need for both more technical skills and a “lifelong learning” mindset. Technical skills are a priority on the global stage: according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), around 123 million roles will be generated through data science and AI. The UK’s top-three emerging jobs are Artificial Intelligence Specialist, Data Protection Officer and Robotics Engineer according to LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs report for 2020.
This shows how the UK’s economy can unlock the potential of emergent technologies with a healthy pipeline of employees possessing relevant technical skills, knowledge and a hunger to learn.
To understand the transformative nature of AI and ML, let’s look at an example from the world of agriculture. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. If you apply AI and ML tools to create a “smart” orchard with automated and optimised processes, a farmer can ensure their customers are supplied with the freshest, crispiest British apples. In turn, the farmer has more time to focus on other areas of their business.
On our “smart” orchard, the farmer receives automated and real-time updates on the state of their crop. They are notified when the crop is at the optimal ripeness and can deploy an automated picker at just the right time to harvest the crop and send it on to market. The apples then arrive at an automated sorting centre, which grades the fruit using ML algorithms to check for colour and freshness, before preparing the apples for distribution. Meanwhile at home, you or I order the fruit to be delivered to our doorstep.
This simple example highlights how AI can transform our productivity in many different sectors, while also creating new demand for skills and new jobs at each stage of the process – in fact data science and AI alone could create 58 million net new jobs according to WEF.
The farmer and the sorting centre will need workers who understand the data and can repair the machines, while the grocery store needs ordering applications, sophisticated technology and automated logistics. Likewise, in the office, automation can shift time away from repetitive tasks to higher-value, creative work that maximises people’s potential. Less time spent filing paperwork or entering data to more time spent designing innovative products and learning. In healthcare, automation can give frontline nurses and doctors more time working directly with patients. Ultimately this puts us back in touch with why we love what we do. […]