What skills will be required tomorrow?

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - September 4, 2020 - 12:00am

While we are still adjusting to the job challenges of the Third Industrial Revolution, let’s familiarize ourselves with what kind of skills will be needed as we move closer to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

According to Harvard Business Review, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may bring about more difficult challenges as it automates not only blue collar but also white collar jobs, but it argued that the solutions remain the same: there is a need to reskill or upskill in order to avoid displacement.

On top of basic digital skills, the future of work would also require the need to emphasize training towards harnessing soft skills which are innate to humans and not to machines and artificial intelligence. These soft skills include creativity, emotional intelligence, analytical and critical thinking, decision making, interpersonal skills, communication, collaboration, and quick adaptiveness. 

The harnessing of soft skills helps keep work “human centric” as we prepare to work with machines and artificial intelligence.

Hard skills are focused on one’s specialization which can be vulnerable to developing technology, however, soft skills are more general, flexible, and can withstand career shifts.These skills have also been referred to as “transversal” skills” or skills which can be improved through lifelong learning and can allow a worker to be adaptable to change and shifts in the job market.

One of the main challenges of reskilling and upskilling one’s employees is the fact that they are or will be trained while they are working. A representative we interviewed from the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) described the process as “changing the tires while the car is running”.Workers are being trained as they work and as companies also adapt to AI.

According to an Accenture’s report, it is not a choice between AI and the role of the worker but both adaptation and training should be done at the same time: “Accenture puts 60 percent of the money it saves from investments from AI into its training programs. Most AI technology will still need human workers to operate them while some AI technology can actually help human work or jobs be more efficient without removing their roles. However, the importance of addressing skill gaps of the current and prospective workforce to work better with machines still needs to be done and at a larger scale.

Much like most countries in the world, the Philippines has also been adapting to the emerging technologies brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies noted the possible transition of the Philippines from being heavily reliant on BPO to big data which will be one of the most relevant industries in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If projections on future required employment on data science and Big Data analytics are realistic, it would mean that the Philippines is on the brink of transitioning from its beginnings as a call center provider and BPO hub to a processing hub of Big Data.

I am glad to see that USAID is launching a Peso 1.2 billion program for Pinoy youth development. US Ambassador Sung Kim said: ‘Through this partnership, we can leverage a range of resources to maximize the potential of the Filipino youth, particularly those who are out-of-school or unemployed.’ This will help a lot.

These are good news. Let’s go deeper in what the government and the private sector can do jointly to get people educated and employed. I will talk about that in one of my next columns, but I would appreciate your suggestions; contact me at schumacher@eitsc.com


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