Monday, 14 August 2017 19:06

Upskilling will help combat threat to jobs by AI, automation: survey

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Upskilling will help combat threat to jobs by AI, automation: survey Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Upskilling is the key to Australian IT professionals remaining relevant in their jobs in the face of business uptake of artificial intelligence and automation, according to a new nationwide survey.

ICT solutions provider Ajilon, which conducted the survey, says Australian businesses appear to be lacking preparedness for the imminent uptake of artificial intelligence and automation, according to their IT contractors.

The findings, based on a survey of nearly 1500 IT professionals, revealed that while a majority (91%) of respondents believe upskilling is important to remain relevant in their jobs, and one in four (25%) are concerned their company does not see AI and automation as a threat despite their beliefs.

And 17% also indicated that their company is not moving fast enough to keep pace with rapid technology changes.

As a result, close to one in five (16%) IT professionals admitted to feeling insecure about their job prospects as the adoption of AI and automation continues to gain momentum globally.

“Like it or not, AI and automation are set to play an increasing role across our personal and work lives in the near future. As such, it is critical that Australian businesses prepare themselves for the fundamental changes that robots will bring,” said Rod Crozier, general manager of staffing at Ajilon.

“While it is true that certain jobs have, and will, disappear due to computerisation, AI will also see the creation of many new jobs over the coming years. Businesses need to start looking at how we can successfully harness these intelligent technologies to enrich our lives and not ignore the role they will eventually come to play.”

Crozier points to the fact the survey findings suggest that the effects of automation have well and truly arrived, with almost one in five (16%) respondents indicating that their roles have changed in the past year as a result.

Of these, 59% have had to upskill their existing capabilities, 15% had to pick up an entirely new technical skill, and almost one in 10 (9%) have switched job scopes completely as their previous role was no longer required – while one in 10 (11%) has already been made redundant in the past 12 months due to computerisation and automation.

Crozier says that in order to mediate the effects of the digital revolution, further emphasis on continual upskilling was found to be extremely desirable amongst Australian IT professionals, with the findings identifying 89% of respondents to be interested in upskilling, compared to only 3% who weren’t keen.

Those surveyed have also recognised the value of developing a balanced hybrid of both soft, human skills, as well as hard, technical skills, and 61% expressed that it was important to improve these capabilities via training in order to remain relevant in their roles.

“The ongoing digital revolution is creating a continuous change in skills that are in demand. What this means is that traditional skills are becoming outdated very quickly. Given that we can’t always foresee how these changes will play out, it is vital that businesses respond with a readiness to reskill and upskill their employees,” says Crozier.

“Soft, human-oriented skills such as empathy and EQ are also becoming more vital than ever – an employee with a great attitude will be able to adapt much quicker in the face of digital disruptions."

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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