The Robots are taking over!

The Robots are taking over!

I am interested in the future workplace for obvious reasons – owning a recruitment business in a competitive market that relies heavily on filling roles within financial services it is important that I have an awareness of the changes in the jobs market and investigate the future to protect Park in 2028 and beyond……….

I have noticed many changes in the roles that we recruit for over the last ten years and even more so in the last five, some positions have decreased massively (banking operations) others have seen a huge increase (funds!) and there are new roles that were not available even 12 months ago (Robotics Process Automation Developer). So whilst today we have an abundance of roles to fill and I am delighted to say the local marketplace is buoyant and positive it would be foolish of me to forget about the global changes that will impact the way we work in the future. What skills will we need to develop to adapt to these changes?

I have read various articles on the “future workplace” and some have been, quite frankly, depressing and occasionally scary– particularly if you focus on some of the more specific financial services roles that we recruit for …………quotes including 

“the robots are taking over” 

2 billion jobs will be gone by 2020” 

"there will be no roles for accountants as automation takes over”

and similar messages. So is this realistic? Should we be scared? What roles will be available? 

I am pleased to say that some reports show there are positives to be seen from automation and AI as well as offering constructive guidance about what skills we can consider developing so I felt I should share them!

McKinsey research for example finds that very few occupations will be automated in their entirety, rather certain activities will be re-defined meaning that business processes and job roles will change. They gave an example of a Mortgage Officer saying that they would spend much less time inspecting and processing paperwork and more time reviewing exceptions, which will allow them to process more loans and spend more time advising clients. There were other examples that demonstrated various benefits of automation which could enhance the value of “expertise” and the “human touch”. Lawyers for example are already using text-mining techniques to read through the thousands of documents they collect, and to identify the most relevant ones for more detailed review by legal professionals. Similarly, sales companies could use automation to generate leads and identify those clients that are more likely to be open to opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, which could allow the frontline salespeople more time for interacting with customers themselves.

Research by PwC found that artificial intelligence will create as many roles as it displaces. According to the report some sectors will benefit more than others – the report confirms that Healthcare will see 22% increase as society becomes richer and the UK population ages and whilst some roles may be displaced people will still want the “human touch” from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals so we will see those roles increase. The opportunities in the Digital world will not stop growing – both Technology and digital marketing and roles for creatives see an increase; society’s changing needs mean the work force is constantly evolving. And chef’s will continue to be in need – roles in this industry are projected to grow 10 percent (from 2016 to 2026).

There are clear messages on the skills required coming through in many of these reports - those with strong digital skills will be favoured as well as those with skills that machines find harder to replicate – like creativity. David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University, says that soft skills like sharing and negotiating will be crucial in the future workplace. 

Adaptability will be hugely important too, in an environment that will see rapid change it will be key that we are able to adjust to new conditions and be flexible.

I'll finish with a quote from Blair Sheppard, Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership @ PWC that I like.

 So, what should we tell our children? That to stay ahead, you need to focus on your ability to continuously adapt, engage with others in that process, and most importantly retain your core sense of identity and values. For students, it’s not just about acquiring knowledge, but about how to learn. For the rest of us, we should remember that intellectual complacency is not our friend and that learning – not just new things but new ways of thinking – is a life-long endeavour.” 

The only constant is change so let’s keep flexible.