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Are J&K’s youngsters ready for the upcoming job churning? Not really.

By: Arjimand Hussain

What is the future of jobs for our youngsters? What would the job market look like in the next five to ten years? Would the skills that work today still be relevant then?

These questions are very relevant today, for we are at that moment in history when human population is rising and resources are dwindling. This is also a time when we see work opportunities facing intense competition and technology and machines  replacing human work.

And then the elephant in the room – Artificial Intelligence (AI) – and how this phenomenal technology is likely to change jobs and the way we work and live today.

The reason most of us still don’t fully understand what artificial intelligence is going to do to jobs is because we mostly fiddle with open AI sources like the ChatGPT. The bigger elephants in the rooms we haven’t yet got into – Artificial General Intelligence and Artificial Super Intelligence – are topics for a future writeup. Today, let us talk about jobs, and not philosophy.

My job often entails a lot of recruitment as a hiring manager. That is the work I, honestly, find exhausting, besides my normal management responsibilities. The manual work of reviewing long lists of candidates, shortlisted from even a longer list by the HR Department, is often exhausting and imperfect. Despite using automated softwares, one of the most difficult tasks we face today is to figure out the most appropriate job skills and personality types for particular jobs.

Now, imagine AI going to do the whole bunch of those jobs – shortlisting three candidates with the most appropriate skills and personalities out of 300 – 500 applicants in a matter of seconds. That is what is happening today.

These days people often ask what about the future of jobs in sectors like IT, medicine, communications, legal consultancy, etc? The answer is tricky, but most of these questions are very clearly answered in the Future of Jobs Report 2023, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), recently.

WEF’s Managing Director, Saadia Zahidi, created quite a ripple recently when she said that the 50 per cent of the skills we use in our workplace today would not be relevant in the next five years! The transformation Ms Zahidi is hinting at sounds huge.

She also said that the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our workplaces would make 83 million jobs vanish, while 69 million new jobs would be created.

In effect, that would mean that 83 million jobs, reliant on the current skill sets, will no longer be useful. And that the 69 million jobs that will be created would be based on entirely new skills and technology.

Now, the question is are we mid-career professionals and our youngsters, bracing for entering the private sector job market, ready for this big change?

The problem with J&K’s education system, as a whole, is that it is still hinged on a very redundant model. It is something like preparing Mediterranean dishes for a Punjabi wedding. The challenge with this anomaly, if we don’t act fast, will be that we would end up with a huge formal-educated workforce which won’t get jobs. Only a small percentage would be able to cope with the imperatives of this new environment.

The large number of organisations, that the FoJ Report 2023 has surveyed, say that the following technologies would see net job creation between 2023–2027 –

Big-data analytics, Climate-change mitigation technology, Environmental management technologies, Encryption and cybersecurity, Biotechnology, Agriculture technologies, Digital platforms and apps, Health and care technologies, Education and workforce development technologies, Augmented and virtual reality, Power storage and generation, E-commerce and digital trade, Biodiversity protection technologies and so on.

Most of these sectors to many people would sound new, even music to the ears. But that is how rapidly things are changing today.

A question often raised in this discussion is why would companies do all this at all?

The answer is simple – to remain relevant, to cut production costs in the face of rising input costs, achieve greater efficiency, to be able to repay their debts better and achieve green transition. And that is why this transformation is irreversible.

The Future of Jobs Report 2023  research suggests that while today humans do 66% of production work, leaving 34% to machines, by 2027, the shift would be huge – machines would take up 43% of the work, while only 57% would be left for humans to do.

This is a big shift. And that is what the Future of Jobs report calls the big upcoming churning.

The sectors that are likely to embrace Artificial Intelligence in a big way include Information Technology, energy, employment services, financial services, telecom, medical health services, electronics and so on. And the sectors which are less likely to embrace AI include real estate, retail and wholesale trade, agriculture and hospitality.

Despite this big churning, the good news is that India is likely to see a surge in jobs in the new technology areas due to AI.

Technologies that, according to the FoJ Report, 2023, are likely to result in net job creation in India include – big-data analytics (62% net jobs), Encryption and cybersecurity (53%), Digital platforms and apps (51%), E-commerce and digital trade (46%), Internet of things and connected devices (45%), Cloud computing (43%), Artificial intelligence (40%) and Education and workforce development technologies (38%).

The global trends that are likely to have a positive impact on India’s job market include – Broader application of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards (61% overall positive impact), increased adoption of new and frontier technologies (59%), broadening digital access (55%), Climate-change induced investments into adapting operations (53%), investments to facilitate the green transition of your business (53%). The only negative trend that may affect jobs prospects is the slower global economic growth.

The top reskilling focus will be on these skills and attitudes – Analytical thinking (54%), AI and big data (46%) Resilience, Flexibility and agility (42%), Creative thinking (38%), Leadership and social influence (36%), Curiosity and lifelong learning (33%), Empathy and active listening (22%).

The writing on the wall is clear – we must brace up and prepare for the change!

The writer is Managing Director of UAE-based AW Project Management Services, a management consulting group, and founder of Ziraat Times.

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