Recently, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore unveiled the most human like robot ever made, assigned with the task of working as a receptionist on campus. It’s just one of the signs of the times ahead. The influx of the algorithm age will see replacement of humans by robots and smart software.
The recent World Economic Forum report says that automation alone will cause a loss of 5.1 million jobs in the next five years.
The changing and evolving consumer dynamics, owing to the rapid pace of digitization transformation, is seeking for a radical overhauling of traditional businesses. Evolve or perish messages are doing the rounds across the office corridors as technology has already begun displacing millions of people from their jobs.
Being on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, is changing the global employment landscape drastically. Some of the recent global developments are showing the dreaded scenario of the future as Foxconn recently announced the replacement of 60,000 factory workers with robots. Global fast food chain McDonald’s too has indicated walking the same path owing to rising wages, as indicated by one of its former CEO’s. Even global retail corporation Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses. These striking developments signal the path of the future business operations across the globe. Not only across the world, automation drive is impacting on the Indian soil too.
For example 90% of operations in Ford’s recent plant, set up in Gujarat, is automated.
And that is not all, as Artificial Intelligence or AI is forcing all major tech companies to adept and adopt to its growing presence. The future transformers include Cortana from Microsoft, Google Now from Google, Siri from Apple and Echo from Amazon with even Facebook getting into the game with its M digital assistant. The future of automation and robotics in the workplace is a stark reality staring at us. Employees will have to work towards retaining their places, else risk getting replaced. These ‘tech’tonic changes promise to hit the world of work faster than any tech advancement in the past.
Spurring war of talent
The impact of digital technology has gone beyond the IT department, transforming the entire ecosystem of an organization. With half-life of technology getting shorter, it’s the people who are the prime source of competitive advantage. With mismatched demand and supply of skilled workforce, the scenario is no less than an impending battle. And an evolved professional who is “technologically literate, globally astute, and operationally agile”, states a McKinsey & Co study on ‘The war of talent’, will spearhead this turnaround.
This war of talent is making the global middle class anxious, a thought that was recently shared by Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India. Rajan’s view echoes the growing sentiment on how lack of skills in the digital era is forcing organizations to re-look at their talent pool or face redundancy, if ignored.
Race against time
While the need is acute and time is a luxury, there is a dire need to look ahead and plan the company investment in raising and revising the skill sets. While the talent pool in the country is growing but the quality is yet to match the desired global standards. And there lies an exciting and huge opportunity for us at NIIT.
The magnitude of talent shortage that companies are facing today requires them to be more proactive and tap newer platforms. They are also being made to increase the pace of skill development to maintain sustenance. Traditional skills will not prove to be beneficial in the digital age for their growth with the workplaces undergoing serious transformations.
One of the popular estimates doing the rounds indicates that 65% of children joining primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new types of jobs that don’t even exist yet. If the education system focuses beyond the role of knowledge transfer and builds student capacities in these new areas, then the dawn of the age of robots will be an opportunity than a threat.
Indian & Global IT Companies are investing heavily in building digital transformation skills to enable their clients to transform digitally. The most-sought after skill sets for building a talent pool include: Product Engineering, Business Analytics, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Technology and Architecture, Mobile Apps and Internet of Things.
While the year 2050 will see a pool of a billion jobseekers, their employability will be a challenge if efforts are not made to make them equipped with employable skills. The changing global employment landscape doesn’t leave much scope for laxity. If the specific skill sets are not acquired, be prepared to lose your job to the next best candidate, or even worst – an algorithm run machine.
[Guest piece by Prakash Menon, President, Global Skills & Careers Group, NIIT ]