“There is a clear need for professionals to effectively shield themselves against the onslaught of automation”, says Vikas Gupta, MD at Wiley India. Read on to find out his expert views on the automation challenge and the apparatus to confront it.
The Technological Conundrum
Technology has permeated our social, personal, as well as professional lives and cocooned us in the case of convenience. Its ubiquitous nature has made it a matter of habit rather than a far-fetched luxury and we are too dependent on it to now turn the clock. As technology marches forward to make things more convenient, especially as a tool of automation, humans are struggling to find a golden median that preserves evolving technology with a social and economic balance.
The Significance of Skills
The most crucial aspect towards handling this onslaught of automation is to first accept and embrace it. Denial will only leave us poorly prepared for what is a definite phenomenon of the future. The idea is to co-exist with technology rather than perish in this automation tsunami.
An important way to face the challenge is to stay relevant. You can do that in two ways. One, by keeping yourself abreast of the waves of change through articles on futuristic technologies and their application. And the other is to utilize the knowledge thus acquired to build a relevant skill set. As automation takes care of the mundane aspects, to stay important to an organization you need to develop skills that firmly entrench you as contributing to its efficiency. These skills can either be deep skills, hybrid skills or higher skills.
Deep skills is a domain of super-specialized knowledge on a subject that makes you the master of your trade.
Hybrid skills on the other hand, require combining more than one skill and appearing an attractive package to the employer.
Higher skills are a heady mix of hybrid skills combined with a human-centric skill (like negotiation, persuasion etc.) to present a potent mix that machines cannot replicate.
Universities as Agents of Change
Education has always been the first to respond to or even herald changes in society. The skills to tackle automation too are best acquired at universities, which are the centers of knowledge. To prepare college students to handle this challenge, two approaches can be adopted. One would be to emphasize on skilling programs. Prized human skills of analytical thinking, contextual decision making etc should be encouraged and nurtured. Students should be introduced to an industrial set-up through live industrial projects and an integrated curriculum.
This would inculcate an attitude of continuous learning in students and acquaint them with the challenges that await them. Once the seeds of knowledge and inquisitiveness have been sowed in a generation, it will continue to nudge them on the path of continuous learning. This is where the education system has a significant role to play.
The Way Forward
Ultimately, all of it boils down to the critical aspect of skill acquisition. The panacea to the challenges posed by automation is to learn the technique to master the technology or possess the knowledge to aid its application. Either ways, we need to acquire multiple skills and don various hats if we aim to beat technology at its own game.