Photo by Catherine Goce
By: Evonne Syed
The topic of integrating artificial intelligence and robots into the workforce rouses the concern of anyone wishing to enter the job market, and the same goes for postsecondary students.
Fortunately, the future is optimistic for students as automation is not expected to prevent graduates from attaining their career goals.
In fact, the rise of automation actually improves career prospects for university graduates, as it is creating a new job market. Forbes Magazine reports that artificial intelligence is predicted to create 58 million jobs as 2022 approaches.
As the popularity of automation systems and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace becomes more widespread, there will be more and more people required to actually build and develop these systems.
This will open up opportunities for those who wish to enter the fields of robotics and information technology. BBC News anticipates the prominence of data analysts, social media specialists and software developers, as a result.
For this reason, while one may argue that automation has resulted in the elimination of certain jobs, the introduction of automation in the workforce is actually creating more jobs and opportunities in our current digital age.
Luckily, McMaster University has many programs to equip students with the necessary skills to flourish in our digital age. The recent construction of the Hatch Centre shows McMaster’s testament to students advancing in these fields.
Even if one is not interested in working in the field of automation, that does not mean that they are otherwise at risk of being unable to obtain a job. There is an increasing demand for “human skills” in the workforce since these skills are what distinguish robots from actual human beings.
University graduates tend to seek out careers that require a higher level of education which simply cannot be programmed into automation systems. It would be way too costly and time consuming to teach a robot the knowledge a person has acquired from their post-secondary education.
There are also plenty of skills, academic and otherwise, that students learn and develop through their time at university. Education and experiential opportunities prepare students to apply their knowledge in a variety of situations.
For example, critical thinking skills and problem solving are transferable “soft skills” that employers seek and students develop during their time at university.
Some jobs require humanistic qualities, which are simply not possible for a machine to replicate. For instance, no matter how much technology advances, robots may never be capable of understanding human emotions and experiences.
The interpersonal skills, empathy and compassion that people develop by interacting with one another are skills that are beneficial for the work environment. These skills equip anyone to thrive professionally as the future of the job outlook changes.
Technological advancements such as automation will inevitably impact life as we know it, and that includes changing our work environments. However, these changes are not inherently harmful and the possibilities for post-secondary graduates remain promising.
Students must be proactive, take initiative to educate themselves as much as possible and work on developing these skills. Provided that students make the most of their university experience, and are willing to undergo some extra training to keep their learning sharp, robots are sure to have nothing on them.