If you really want to know how to future-proof your career, your best bet is the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2018. The report confirmed most of the things we already knew: that automation and machine learning are set to create as many jobs as they displace, that the gig economy and flexible contract work will become standard, and that knowledge of data science is going to be a key differentiator in the job market over the next few years. With more than two years having passed since the first Future of Jobs report, there have been some new developments. With the mainstreaming of chatbots and other consumer-facing artificial intelligence (AI), there's more of an understanding of how machine learning might integrate into our society. Now that we've had some time to get to know Sophia, Alexa, Pepper and the rest, there are noticeably fewer "Are robots coming to steal your job?" clickbait articles in the media.
Access to skilled workers is already a key factor that sets successful companies apart from failing ones. In an increasingly data-driven future - the European Commission believes there could be as many as 756,000 unfilled jobs in the European ICT sector by 2020 - this difference will become even more acute. Skills gaps across all industries are poised to grow in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in ever shorter cycles, changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done - and the skills needed to do them - faster than ever before. At least 133 million new roles generated as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms may emerge globally by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated technological advances and the automation of many routine tasks – from contactless cashiers to robots delivering packages. In this environment, many are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) will drive significant automation and destroy jobs in the coming decades. Just a few decades ago, the internet created similar concerns as it grew. Despite skepticism, the technology created millions of jobs and now comprises 10% of US GDP. Today, AI is poised to create even greater growth in the US and global economies.
Earlier this year, President Trump signed an executive order for the "American AI Initiative," to guide AI developments and investments in the following areas: research and development, ethical standards, automation, and international outreach. This initiative is indicative of the changing times, and how, as a country, the U.S. is learning to navigate the implications of AI. Leaders in the business world, specifically, are faced with the responsibility of equipping our employees with the skills necessary for paving long-lasting career paths, and the workforce must discover what will be expected as technology continues to disrupt the norm, and work as we know it. As a global business leader, an AI optimist, and a father, I find myself asking: What will make a career sustainable in 2020 and beyond? Will the future of education rise to meet the demands of the future of work?