No, you probably aren’t about to lose your job to a robot.
Economic transformation will be the result of AI-driven automation, not widespread unemployment, a heavily casualised job market, or empty offices buildings.
According to a new report from Deloitte, even though there is need for a boost in digital literacy, Australia is facing a “severe shortage in customer service skills” foreshadowing the next big shift in how our society works.
“While today’s jobs require us to use our heads, rather than our hands, this binary classification is hiding something important – the work of the heart,” the report says.
Specifically human skills like creativity, design, interpersonal relations, and leadership will be the most valuable heading into what the World Economic Forum has dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In a speech to the National Press Club, economist Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics presented an optimistic vision of the future of work backed by statistical analysis.
“We live in a world of stunning and accelerating change and a lot of people are very anxious about that.
“We think that unemployment is going to rise, forgetting the jobs created. We worry wage growth will stick to the floor. We worry about stumbling from one dead-end job to another. And we worry about empty workplaces.
“We worry about things that simply aren’t happening.”
There is no denying that times are changing.
More than half of all workers need to upskill in the next three years as automated systems become more pervasive.
Even high-value sectors like healthcare are facing dramatic change – but change, Richardson reminds us, does not have to be negative.
“By 2030, six out of every seven new jobs created will be for knowledge workers who use information in a variety of ways,” Richardson said.
“One in every four workers will be professionals in areas like of health, education, engineering, and business. And two-thirds of jobs will be critically reliant on soft skills – jobs of the heart.”
‘Head’ skills like coding, science, and engineering are still in short supply, compared to the glut of workers with media and information processing skillsets.
Yet it is those who are adept at sales, teaching, conflict resolution, and especially customer service – all ‘heart’ skills – who have the most doors open as our economy continues its rapid transformation.
“If you want a simple indication of why jobs are headed in this uniquely human direction think of the pain you feel when you’re trying to chase something up – you pick up the phone and make a call only to have a robot answer,” Richardson said.
“Then think of the sigh of relief that you offer when, finally, a human comes on the line.”
Richardson also said that, while the international outsourcing of customer service positions was, in some cases a cost saving measure, the overall trend was indicative of a dearth of Australian workers with the appropriate skillset.
Sunil Daniel from IT recruitment firm Halcyon Knights said the jobs of tomorrow will not be immediately obvious until they are needed.
“If we think about the common occupations we have now that we couldn’t have even imagined 30 years ago, we can see just how endless the possibilities are for the future,” Daniel said.
“The new jobs that AI will create aren’t even just for those with technical skills. In fact, most new positions will rely on our ability to be human and ensure that the work of machines is both effective and responsible – for example jobs like ‘empathy trainer’ for AI devices and ‘AI ethics compliance auditors’.
“Just as with every technological revolution before us, the real gains in jobs will come from places where our imaginations can’t take us – not just yet.”