A recent survey of 1,200 executives across the financial services industry by Accenture finds 74% of executives see artificial intelligence reshaping their industry. The report's authors, lead by Ellyn Shook, estimate that between 2018 and 2022, banks that invest in AI and human-machine collaboration at the same rate as top-performing businesses could boost their revenue by an average of 34 percent and their employment levels by 14 percent. But it takes investment in people – AI is taking over many tasks, but skilled people are needed to either create or train these systems, or to augment them. Tellingly, there has been precious little movement to provide the right training to bring these skills about with the current workforce. The Accenture survey finds only three percent plan to significantly invest in re-skilling the people in their workforces for this AI-driven future.
There are more than 30,000 Alexa skills available, and they all have one thing in common: They weren't made by you. Amazon's Skill Blueprints looks to change that. Amazon says the newly announced Skill Blueprints will make skill creation more accessible, by offering customers customizable templates they can use to make their own skills for the voice-powered Alexa assistant. Starting today (April 19), Amazon is making available 20 skill blueprints across several categories: Home, Fun & Games, Storyteller, and Learning & Knowledge. Using those templates, Alexa users will be able to create a skill for their corniest jokes, a trivia game, or an interactive story, to name three examples.
At the SXSWedu national education conference in Texas this week, a panel of business and education leaders discussed worrying findings in a recent study of the skills gap in technology. Among the findings of the Career Advisory Board were that just 11% of organizations believe that colleges and universities are providing graduates with skills to fill the tech needs of their businesses and institutions. The study also found that 57 of respondents said that interviewees for tech roles lack the skills necessary for the job. One of those taking part on the panel was Randi Zuckerberg, CEO of Zuckerberg media, author, former director at Facebook, and sister of that company's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. Following the panel she took the time to talk to me about what she felt were the most pressing issues raised by the report – and how the tech industry can make a start at tackling them.
Still, it is jobs requiring basic cognitive skills, including data entry, that face the biggest challenge, as they are set to decline even faster than they have over the last 15 years. The same is true of physical and manual skills, such as gross motor skills. Though this may remain the largest skill category by hours worked in many countries, including the United States, in others, such as France and the United Kingdom, they will be overtaken by demand for social and emotional skills; in Germany, physical and manual skills will be surpassed by higher cognitive skills in terms of hours worked.
Employment requiring high math skills but low social skills, including many science and engineering jobs, has decreased in the United States as high social skills have become increasingly powerful predictors of employment and wage growth. Using surveys of occupations, skills, and wages, Deming shows that socially skilled people self-select into less structured jobs requiring a wide range of tasks, leading to wage gains. Increasing computerization may be a driver, replacing routine work and prioritizing social collaboration, but employment and wages have been especially strong in jobs demanding both high math and high social skills.