Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and automation will create more jobs than they eliminate. And the people employed in the new work environment must bring higher thinking skills, as well as social and emotional intelligence as technologists, to their workplaces and positions.
In the Technologist Talk podcast series, Charles Eaton, Creating IT Futures CEO and CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation, has referred to this workforce evolution as becoming “technologists, not just technicians.”
That was the key message shared by Diya Wynn, global readiness lead at Amazon Web Services Inc., during her breakout session at today’s Women In Technology Summit Southeast (WITS) held in Raleigh, North Carolina.
WITS is the only technical conference that features all women speakers and has programming specifically designed for women technologists working in technical and non-technical roles.
The mission of WITS is to educate, inspire and connect women in tech working across a wide variety of roles and experience levels. By attending one of the six WITS events held each year across the country, participants can learn new skills, empowering them to become stronger contributors. They also connect with other women at various career levels doing diverse types of work in technology fields.
All profits generated from WITS conferences support the non-profit TechGirlz and its ongoing mission to inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower future careers.
WITS and TechGirlz are Creating IT Futures programs.
Being human offers competitive advantage
During her presentation titled “Being Human: The Competitive Advantage,” Wynn said that rather than being displaced by advances in new technology, humans will prove to be more important than ever. She encouraged participants to embrace the next wave of technology by making their skill sets relevant to it.
“While industries are relying more upon AI, ML and automation, it doesn’t mean we are getting rid of the people,” she said. “By resisting the trend, we risk being among the people left behind.”
Wynn cited a 2017 study sponsored by Gartner Inc. that found that AI, ML and automation could eliminate 1.8 million jobs – but create another 2.3 million jobs in their place for humans capable of doing what technology cannot.
“Social and emotional skills will be more in demand than ever, because those are skills that technology does not do well,” Wynn said. “Humans add value. Regardless of technological advances, there are things computers may never achieve.”
Wynn made reference to another study conducted by McKinsey & Company that showed by 2030, jobs demanding manual labor or rudimentary thinking would decrease, but that jobs requiring higher thinking, social and emotional intelligence, and technological knowledge would increase.
Specific “human” skills needed in this new working environment include a strong team spirit, self-confidence, trustworthiness, assertiveness, clear communication, empathy, inquisitiveness and creativity, she said.
“So how do we make ourselves ready for this new working environment?” Wynn asked rhetorically, advising WITS participants to build capacity for agility, diversity and becoming a life-long learner.
“Learning more and learning often is what will help us stay abreast of technological advances,” she said. “There is no way to get around the need to keep pace.”
Even something as simple as office-based “lunch and learn” sessions where a teammate presents information useful to peers is a simple but effective way to help keep up with technological changes, she said.
“Companies that provide several different kinds of learning opportunities for their people will likely see an uptick in technological advances as well,” Wynn said. “The more we can adapt and change in ways that add value, the more ready we will be for the workforce of the future.”
WITS will hold its next summit in the Mid-Atlantic Region in Washington, DC, on April 2-3, 2020. Click here for more information about this event.
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- TechGirlz in a Box™: Free, Fun and Engaging Hands-On Tech Workshops for Teenage Girls from TechGirlz (blog post)