Keep up with technology to capture that new job

A number of jobs are at risk of becoming obsolete as we rush to embrace technology and Big Data.

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Tyler Cowen, the United States economist, has said: “Average is over — the key divide is between the 10 per cent and 15 per cent of people who can manage computers, and everyone else.” While this may be an extreme view, we are at a crucial stage in the changing job market.

We are witnessing a trend in the decline of many traditional industries, and a whole new set of skills will be required in the future to succeed. In many industries, the number of workers employed is slowly being reduced and a heavier reliance on machines is taking place.

A number of jobs are at risk of becoming obsolete as we rush to embrace technology and Big Data. Bank tellers’ days are already numbered. Here in the UAE there is still a lot of face-to-face banking done, but in other countries there is very little banking that takes place in person nowadays. Online banking has revolutionised the way we bank and the need for humans has decreased significantly. Online banking uptake is increasing dramatically in the UAE, and will continue in an upwards trend as more people prefer the convenience of accessing their account any time, anywhere.

Shop assistant is another role under threat. While here in the region we still rely heavily on people to scan and pack our groceries, this is not the case elsewhere and the trend globally is for automated tills to replace counter staff.

If you are thinking these are low skilled or unskilled jobs and a robot couldn’t do your job, think again. Legal firms are already using software called Lex Machina, which uses algorithms to predict the outcome of patent lawsuits. If lawyers can be replaced by machines, anyone can.

While the automation of some traditional industries can be cause for concern, there is a positive side to the way technology is changing everyday life. Many jobs that are available today simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. Social media manager, SEO expert, blogger, app developer, sustainability expert are all roles that had not even been heard of, let alone been considered as careers a decade ago.

Many companies have only recently woken up to the fact that they need to have a social media presence. Only a few short years ago companies clamped down on staff using social media, banning employees from mentioning the company on various platforms and restricting access to the sites during working hours. Now companies realise they need to have a “voice” in the new world and this means being active on social media. This has resulted in high demand for social media managers to look after corporate accounts and client accounts, and employees are usually actively encouraged to engage with the corporate social accounts. Brands are also employing community and social media managers to engage with customers via social media.

Advertising used to be found exclusively in the print, radio and TV industries. Now digital advertising is growing exponentially, and this has opened up a whole raft of new roles, from digital marketing managers to SEO experts. These roles are at the forefront of the industry, and those who were quick enough to convert have reaped the benefits.

We are not heading towards employment Armageddon. The fact that so many roles we are hiring for did not exist 10 years ago indicates that there are as yet huge potential opportunities when it comes to new roles and jobs.

Rather than losing jobs from the market, technology is changing them. The same number if not more roles are available today, they are just in different sectors, which means that employees need to ensure they have the right skills that employers are looking for. Employers need candidates who are technologically aware, and have skills that take account of the changing environment.

Gone are the days of simply matching job titles to job posts — we must now match skills to job posts to find better talent for new jobs.

Sanjay Modi is the managing director of (India, Middle East, South East Asia and Hong Kong).

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