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#FourthIndustrialRevolution ; Robots taking our jobs? Stop worrying and upskill for the future

A new study contrasts many recent headlines reporting that robots will take over our jobs in the future. Pearson, in partnership with Nesta and the Oxford Martin School, recently released a report entitled “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030” which forecasts that only one in five workers are in professions that will shrink worldwide.

Managing Director for Pearson South Africa, Ebrahim Matthews says, “The study finds that while many jobs today will still be in demand by 2030 and beyond, the skills required for success in these roles are changing.”

For the first time ever, researchers combined diverse human expertise with active machine learning to produce a more subtle outlook on future employment trends.

Matthews adds, that about 70% of workers are in jobs where there is greater uncertainty about the future. This, explains Matthews, is an opportunity for workers to improve their prospects by investing in the right areas of skill development. Knowledge areas such as the English language, history, philosophy, administration, and management are all generally associated with occupations that will increase in demand.

The professions that are likely to experience a rise in employment are associated with education, healthcare, and wider public sector occupations. A decline in employment is forecast to take place in professions related to transportation and traditional manufacturing.

The survey reported that as the demand for uniquely human skills increases, the key to success in the workplace of the future will be strong social skills. Looking ahead, skills forecast to be in high demand will include social perceptiveness, active learning, active listening, judgment and decision making. In addition, cognitive skills such as fluency of ideas, originality, and oral expression are also forecast to increase in demand, while physical abilities such as stamina, depth perception are forecast to decline.

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggests – it is not going to be human versus machine, but rather human and machine,” said John Fallon, chief executive officer, Pearson. “It is clear that technology is changing the global economy and labour markets, but we still retain the ability to control our destiny. We must reevaluate the skills people will need for a digital future, and update our education systems to ensure teachers have the right tools to help students succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.”

Philippe Schneider, researcher, and co-author of the report said “Jobs are the cornerstone of our social and economic lives. Today many are concerned that jobs face a period of sustained disruption – not only as a result of automation but also globalisation, demographic and environmental change and political uncertainty. Thinking systematically about these trends cannot give conclusive answers on what is around the corner, but it can provide clues and challenge imaginations as we design policies to improve the adaptability and employability of our workforces.”

Many studies around this complex subject agree that occupations with relatively low skills requirements are those most under threat of automation. However, this study finds that some activities like food preparation and hospitality will grow in importance, reflecting wider consumer trends, such as the re-emergence of artisanal employment in occupations like brewing and barbering.





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