The “future of work” is not a far-off concept – it’s currently happening all around us.
Almost daily, we interact with some form of automation, from chatbots to self-populating calendars. As automation takes over more administrative work, roles and responsibilities will transform and a heavy mix of creativity will be needed for the future of those jobs.
Technology is beginning to permeate every industry. 30% of daily activities in 60% of all occupations could be automated in the next 20 years. This will lead to a wave of reskilling of workers to control the new technologies.
Although not everyone will need to be highly skilled in these emerging fields, a grounded knowledge in coding and digital skills will be necessary as workers interact with artificial intelligence and machine learning daily. This is already a noticeable trend with a 55% increase in the demand of technological skills, from basic to advanced programming. With computers and robots taking over more mundane jobs, employees will be freed up and armed with the tools to solve complex problems through a human perspective.
To compete for these new jobs, digital literacy is not enough. Talent must be creative and critical thinkers that are business-minded. Computers aren’t flexible and cannot be empathetic. While the industry is actively trying to design creative AI, we’ll likely maintain our advantage because computers struggle to anticipate change and connect unrelated patterns – the key to creativity. The demand for social and emotional skills will grow by 26% across all industries and because of this, we’ll see an influx of workers seeking non-traditional forms of education where hard and soft skills are blended.
Ever since we started harvesting land, humans have understood they were the dominant species on earth. That dominance has in large part been about intelligence. With AI coming, and with our urge to make it as human as possible, we’ll begin to understand what really separates us as humans from the artificial intelligence that we create. It will have an impact on how we educate our kids, how we orient society, and how we navigate the workplace around us. It’s both exciting and terrifying.
Soft skills are distinctly human. Human characteristics like compassion, creativity, adaptability and leadership will become prized skills, while digital literacy will become a necessity. As a result, education in tech needs to be focused on developing both hard skills and soft skills.
So how do we create this type of talent? Reskilling our existing talent pool is a big part of the equation. Currently, only 37% of companies consider it important to build partnerships with educational institutions who specialize in retraining. We are seeing tech giants like Amazon get ahead of the automation curve by investing in the growth of their workforce through reskilling opportunities. That said, Amazon is the exception, and not the rule. More companies can get a head start on the future of work by embracing reskilling methods that place an emphasis on both hard and soft skills.
At Lighthouse Labs, we encourage education through mentorship, which creates a symbiotic flow of ideas between colleagues. We also encourage creativity through physically collaborative spaces. As an example, DevHub, Lighthouse Labs’ co-working space for developers, gives tech workers and learners support through mentorship, events and guest speakers. This physical space gives them the chance to stay current within the expanding use of tech.
It’s also important to be cognisant of the speed in which technology advances and replicate that format within tech education. Fast, intensive and committed learning is something we all have to prepare for, and being able to adapt efficiently and effectively is a true skill. On-site corporate training, where we can specialize courses for a company’s needs, and shorter bootcamp programs both allow the education to match the speed of changing technology, without demanding that employers and students commit to longer timeframes to reskill.
Automation will make way for higher personal growth in employment. We’ll soon see a workforce of lifelong learners who are creative problem solvers. Their adaptability will be seen with their use of new tech, but most importantly how they work in tandem with their coworkers and digital coworkers. Automation has the potential to make work more efficient and productive, and while resistance is common, this shift towards prioritizing creativity will allow tech workers to smoothly transition into the future of work and level up the tech ecosystem overall.
Jeremy Shaki is Co-Founder and CEO of Canadian Coding Bootcamp Lighthouse Labs.