The future of work is one of the most hotly contested topics in the ongoing debate these days. And one thing that has been covered to the point of exhaustion is how the onward march of automation and robots will wipe out white-collar jobs, displacing more than a fifth of the global workforce. According to a report by McKinsey, up to 375 million workers around the world may need to switch jobs and learn new skills to stay employable. This report definitely paints a distressed picture about the future job outlook.
Today, AI-led job disruption isn’t just limited to assembly lines, AI has increasingly edged out a technical workforce in areas such IT-BPM, ITES, financial sector with the technology becoming an indispensable part of the workflow. Just like warehouse/factory employees and drivers, white-collared knowledge workers too are in the firing line.
Future of Jobs in India – by 2022, 37 per cent of Indian workforce will work with varied skill set
According to the Future of Jobs India study by EY, FICCCI & NASSCOM, against a backdrop of a changing job landscape, the next four years would see 37% of Indian workforce in jobs demanding exponentially different skill sets. As per the report, by 2022, 60-65% of the workforce from the IT-BPM sector would be deployed in future job roles such as VFX Artist, Computer Vision Engineer, Wireless Network Specialist, Embedded System Programmer, Data Scientist, Data Architect, AI Research Scientist to name a few.
Other new jobs for the gig economy would be machine-learning based in sectors like retail, finance, telecom and healthcare. 9% of the workforce would be deployed in completely new jobs that do not exist today.
According to NASSCOM President R Chandrashekhar, “The report presents a 2022 picture – a time when no one can afford to “rest on one’s laurels” but needs a continuous learning culture. Another important fact being seen is that non-tech firms are increasingly emerging as the source of information technology roles; for eg. automotive, aerospace, BFSI, telecom, retail, healthcare, etc.”
The impact is definitely high on IT & BFSI sector, but the changing exponential technologies have also created an exciting opportunity in this gig economy. The gig economy will provide employment opportunities to Indian software developers, creative and multimedia professionals, online sales and marketing professionals, writers, translators and data entry operators, indicates the FICCI report.
Turning Industry 4.0 into a massive opportunity – AIM presents 5 new job roles that AI will create in government & IT sector:
In this golden age of AI, the labour shift will also see the creation of new job roles -- some of them are an iteration of existing IT functions roles, wherein an experienced manager will be required to step in and do the heavy lifting.
AI Trainers/Specialists: Let’s face it – AI-skilled talent doesn’t exist yet. According to a recent study by Chinese IT giant Tencent, there are only 300,000 AI researchers and practitioners across the world. Enterprises like Facebook and closer home Infosys and Wipro are retraining employees in next-gen technologies such as self-driving car engineering, analytics, AI & AR/VR and have unveiled internal initiatives to upskill employees. AI hardware leader NVIDIA is well-known for its Deep Learning and AI workshops. Yet, there is a growing need for AI educational requirements.
Today, it is common for a software engineer to go for a machine learning/deep learning certification. Hence, it is a great opportunity to invest time and effort in learning cutting-edge technologies like AI. But who’s going to train this lot? Increasingly, online training institute are tapping leading ML experts who are heading data science teams and are holding workshops and immersive sessions to explain the inner workings of this up and coming domain. We believe, over the next few years, there will be an exponential demand for AI experts to teach a wide swathe of professionals.
AI Translators: This job role is akin to that of a Business Requirement Analyst wherein the AI Translator tasked with explaining the black box function of algorithm and explaining how a certain outcome arrived to clients or non-tech professionals. He/she will also bridge the knowledge gap by conveying to the product team the requirements of the client. In small AI-startups, this role is usually handled by one of the co-founders who tends to the sales side, but as the companies grow, there will be a need for enterprising AI Translator who understands the inner workings of sophisticated algorithms, is well-versed in business speak and can explain the results efficiently to the clients. Needless to say, the role of translator will become important to ensure success of enterprises.
AI Ombudsman: Remember IBM’s bold Watson for oncology that was a major PR disaster for the tech enterprise. Interestingly, the company is yet to provide any evidence on how Watson actually improves the cancer survival rates. Two years back, Elon Musk backed Tesla was jilted with news about a driver crash and subsequent death with the car on Autopilot mode. On January 24, news surfaced again about Tesla’s partially autonomous system that failed to see a firetruck ahead on a freeway. So, the question is how much trust can you place in an AI system and who will audit malfunctioning algorithms? By and large, very few IT enterprises have faith in the fairness and transparency of AI systems.
Europe has already put in place new privacy rules for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Microsoft is codifying rules related to AI practices which will be turned into law. Very soon, government & corporates will appoint an ombudsman to watch out for malpractices in gathering and use of user data and prevent misuse of AI. In our view, enterprises and government bodies will appoint an AI ombudsman whose job will be to oversee the continued usage of AI without any discriminatory bias, and doesn’t malfunction. The AI ombudsman will be more like a watchdog or a compliance manager who ensures these advanced AI systems perform within a set of rules.
AI Lobbyist: Its time the government appoints AI Lobbyists to market their country/state as the most viable destination for key investment. Growing tech changes has put immense pressure on governments to create jobs and up the quality of education to create talent ready for AI jobs. Not a day goes by when we don’t hear from head of states jousting to position their states as the most viable destination for investment. For example, globally Amazon is shopping for a new headquarter – means new jobs, growth and perks and American states have literally launched a campaign to woo Jeff Bezos. Another example is of Google executive Eric Schmidt who is well known in the political circles and has swung many deals in Google’s favour. Tech giants are known to wield considerable political power when it comes to swaying decisions in their favour and cutting deals. Closer home, Telangana and Karnataka government has put in place councils with technology heads actively participating. The role of an AI Lobbyist will emerge from the tech sector.
Lawyers versed in new regulatory laws: The time is not far when new laws and regulations will come into practice. Companies like Microsoft are already working to codify laws related to AI governance & protection of workers’ rights and put them in practice. Time for lawyers to level up and work in enterprises looking to put these into practice.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.