Man vs machine

If you’ve ever thought your competition for a job was the person sitting next to you, think again. It may be the device you’re using to read this very article.

According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford in 2013, 47 per cent of all US employment is at risk of computerisation and the beloved human connection is coming in at second place to sophisticated algorithms. Additionally, the study notes a structural shift in the labour market, with workers relocating from middle-income jobs to low-income jobs in a desperate need to stay employed.

But how can this affect the employee in TT?

Interim CEO of the Employers Consultative Association (ECA) Stephanie Fingal believes TT employees should be on their guard as well. She told Business Day, “Some people have to start thinking about what is happening now and how it will make them redundant. We really do have to have a mind that this is global in keeping up with trends, in Europe and the US for example.”

Fingal said the ECA has looked at research and trends highlighted by organisations such as the World Economic Forum and the initial coin offering and has identified specific waves presently crashing the job market. “As we speak, skills like analytical training and innovation, creativity, emotional intelligence, coordination of time management, critical thinking as well as data analytics are what employers are looking for. That’s what students as well as current employees should focus on. It’s no longer a world of 'I come here to work,' but it’s a case of coming to create a solution.”

Don’t think a degree will solve your problems either. According to Fingal, employers are looking for employees who can rise off their resume and actually improve the organisation.

“In whatever field you’re in, you have to be creative. Those with qualifications who think they will just come to work will be left behind.” She said people cannot close their eyes to what’s happening with technology, especially robotics. “The car industry is in constant retrenchment. Mechanical mills are being taken over by robotics.” She added that jobs such as auditors, accountants, data entry clerks as well as administrative jobs are at risk of computerisation. Also, due to the fact that one can obtain judgements and legal guidance online, Fingal believes even lawyers are at risk.

“We have to look at the tech industry externally, not just here in TT. Computerisation calls for people to begin upskilling. You have to be able to analyse and critique. See beyond what you read,” she said.

Regarding technological devices, Fingal said the cellphone should not just be used for fun, but as a tool.

“The individual has to take charge and keep abreast of what’s going on with technology. You have to avail of those apps and stay ahead of the game.” It also doesn’t begin and end with the individual. The education system has to move with the trends in order to facilitate the necessary technological growth in TT. To those who already have jobs, all is not lost. “You have to look at where you are and decide where you are going to be. You cannot stay in stagnation and think, 'I’ll have this job for the next ten years.' It’s about continuous learning and futuristic vision. You can’t stay in one place.”


"Man vs machine"

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