There’s no denying that technology has replaced humans in some sectors of the economy. Overall, more than25% of jobs in the U.S. are experiencing disruption due to automation, according to the Brookings Institution. Workers are worried. More than one-third say they fear losing their job as a result, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report noted.
Both employees and employers do see the potential of technology. One survey showed that70% of workers believe automation will give them an opportunity to qualify for higher-skilled jobs. And, more than half of employer’s view automation to augment workers’ performance and productivity, not replace them altogether. But it will take re-skilling, re-training and an innovative approach to make sure even the youngest workers are prepared for the types of jobs spawned by innovation that may not yet exist.
Education Reform to Prepare the Workforce of Tomorrow
At the heart of these changes is our educational system. For far too long education has been focused on the 3 Rs – reading, writing and ‘rithmetic’ – encouraging rote learning and attaining basic knowledge. While this approach is changing, it does not yet go far enough to ensure individuals are prepared.
Rather than feeding students with knowledge that exists and is easily discoverable – through trusted online resources and textbooks – our education system must find a way to foster intellectual curiosity and encourage students to think about new ways to approach problems, do research and answer questions. By creating such a discovery path, I believe students will attain the new knowledge they need while encouraging them to look at problems from different angles and be inspired by their own creativity.
The Roadmap for the Future: A Focus on the 3As – Advantages, Automation and AI
Advantages of humans – People have analytical capabilities that are not possible to recreate with AI or machine learning. We can take past knowledge and experience and process it in ways that computers cannot, giving us distinct advantages and unique roles in any workplace. We need to continue to understand and develop these advantages.
Automating mundane work – Robotics and other technologies are helping address shortages of workers in certain sectors and ensuring that those still on the front lines, like in manufacturing facilities and recycling plants, have a safer, efficient and more productive workplace.
Artificial intelligence – AI is a critical tool for knowledge-based learning, as it can repeat what it learns in a quick and scalable way. AI’s role is to complement and enhance what humans can do, making them more productive in the workforce.
Much like the industrial revolutions of the past two centuries, there is immense potential for applications of modern technologies to create jobs previously undiscovered and build a path for personal advancement. The key to navigating these changes will be ensuring that our workforce is equipped with intellectual curiosity and practical skills they need to succeed.