The need for workers who can diversify their skills
THE Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation recently announced that it has identified 73 new science- and technology-based jobs for employees of the future.
This revelation was an expected one as a 2013 study conducted by Oxford Martin School – The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation? – showed that up to 47% of existing jobs in the United States will be obsolete over the next 15 years due to the advancements in technology and automation that are changing how people do things.
Kai-Fu Lee, China’s leading technologist, seemed to concur with the study when he said last year that half of all jobs will be replaced by robots in the next decade. This phenomenon is not exclusive to developed countries but could also occur in developing ones.
What implication could this advancement have on the global workforce?
While the Oxford Martin School study may be true for certain jobs, particularly those related to manufacturing, people in positions that require creativity and decision-making skills such as scientists, lecturers or business strategists may be less affected.
I believe that jobs will not entirely disappear but will instead be redefined. This means that employees will need to learn new skills or improve existing ones to remain relevant in the everchanging job market.
Those who cannot adapt may eventually find themselves out of a job.
An undergraduate degree is now the minimum qualification for most entry-level junior executive jobs, but this will no longer be enough in the future. Workers of the future may need to continue accumulating additional skills and qualifications to ensure they remain employed.
Many experts believe that future employees have to be more agileminded. Instead of working only one job, they must diversify their talents so that they can take up additional jobs.
Freelancing is predicted to be the main way of life for many employees, especially among millennials.
Millennials value the freedom to build their life around their job. The advent of technology has made this a realistic option. It is not surprising that even now, some people hold full-time jobs while working as drivers for e-hailing services or conducting online businesses in their free time.
Thus, it is important that current upskilling and reskilling programmes address the needs of future employers to maintain their competitive edge.
Deloitte Global, whose member companies analysed hundreds of job profiles and mapped them against the Oxford Martin School study, identified 25 critical human skills that are expected to be more in-demand as technology evolves. These are traits that are essentially “human” and indicate an early guideline for the redesign of jobs in the future.
Skills such as multilingualism, critical thinking, speaking, active listening, speech clarity and writing and reading comprehension were among the 25 traits identified.
It is important that everyone practises lifelong learning not only for career advancement but also self-improvement.
It is predicted that future employers will have a combination of full-time, part-time and freelance employees in their workforce. In traditional businesses, employers hire people to perform stipulated jobs and invest in additional training and skill development for those employees, but in future, it is expected that companies will hire freelancers to fill skill gaps in their workforces.
Malaysia is already preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution by making investments in hi-tech ventures into aerospace engineering, rail transport and shipbuilding, but are we ready for other drastic changes, especially ones related to jobs we do not know about yet?
It is time that employees consider diversifying their skills to qualify for jobs that will crop up in future.