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Disruption, automation – and the birth of new jobs

Amit Aggarwal Senior Vice President, Training
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June 5, 2017 - 

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it” - Picasso

There is a lot of talk these days on jobs in the future - will there be fewer or more jobs, what will they be, what skills will they require, will people need reskilling, how will this be achieved? A lot of questions, many of which still need to be answered. However, there are two things that are increasingly clear to me – many, many new jobs are going to be created in the near future and there is a lot of hard work to be done by job aspirants, universities and colleges, training providers, the government and employers to ensure that job-aspirants are skilled, reskilled and ready. 

Disruption in the industry: I think everybody agrees that the IT/ITES industry is disrupting, and the next wave of innovation is around humans and machines partnering together to deliver value. AI, VR, RPA and a whole slew of other Cloud-based and digital delivery platforms are going to determine how the businesses of tomorrow operate and the jobs of tomorrow are defined. The coming surge in emerging technologies will open up multiple areas of work. This in turn will impact the kind of roles and skills required in the workforce, which in turn will require the creation of a new learning eco-system of the future. We will need to partner, collaborate and co-create in order to facilitate innovative commercial models for participants in the value chain to invest in skilling and reskilling.  So there’s a lot of work to be done!

Laying the ground: In 2016, we co-led a project for the industry, in partnership with multiple other IT/ITES companies, one of the largest training companies, and a leading strategy consulting firm, to study what was happening in emerging technologies and begin the preparatory groundwork to design a skilling ecosystem of the future.  We found many new emerging technologies and of those, we shortlisted (to start with) 8 emerging technologies for a deep-dive. These were chosen on the basis of jobs being posted globally for roles in these areas and investments by private equity in these areas.  The 8 shortlisted technologies included Social and Mobile, Cloud Computing, Big Data/Analytics, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Virtual Reality and Robotic Process Automation. While some of these may seem far away, we know that, like with any disruption, this technological revolution has also started in a small way but the acceleration (with a multiplier effect) is inevitable , and we need to prepare ourselves fast to capture the opportunities for revenue and job creation that these technologies will provide. 

Jobs aplenty: These technologies are opening up a plethora of new jobs. One great example is the Virtual Reality (VR) space, which already has opportunity in at least two exciting verticals, including Entertainment – Gaming, Movies etc, and Manufacturing – creating virtual prototypes. These verticals will create new job opportunities in areas like VR Application Developers, 3D Modelling Engineers, Computer Vision Engineers, Solution Architects, VFX Artists, UT/UX Designers and Software and Product Hardware Designers. Similarly, as we looked at the other technologies, we identified 55 new job types across them, and when we tried to get a sense of how many people would be needed for these jobs, a rough estimate was in the range of about 2 million people. 

Over and above these 55 job types, there will be a barrage of net-new ancillary jobs that will also be created in other industries.  A good example here is Car Insurance companies, which will increasingly need to leverage IoT sensor information in order to generate authentic claim reports. This will create the need for specialized data analysts. Hospitals will need staff equipped for the remote monitoring of patients. Manufacturing industries will need manpower to analyze sensor data from moving equipment to determining locations and usage. The jobs are coming, and they’re coming fast!

Gaining the relevant skills for these new technologies: One interesting definition of talent is the “economic value of human beings” – and enhancing that economic value requires an investment. It is critical that every job aspirant recognizes this, and understands that the primary responsibility for the investment in getting skilled lies with them and their family. For people to be job-ready, they will need to invest in their skill development, and in addition to that, the Government, companies and universities need to work very fast to put in place the right enablement programs. This process has already begun - work is underway on proficiency levels and certification types, curriculum and content, delivery systems and assessment programs. These enablement programs will probably be delivered differently from before. They will need to be more digital and virtual-led, so that students can avail of a bank of knowledge from around the world, versus being limited to only what a specific teacher can teach. We need a skilling process that is continuous and based on self-learning, rather than a one-time certification system. 

The good news is that people know that this is needed and have already begun to work with speed and urgency to make this a reality. As an example, Genpact is building one of the world’s largest and best Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities. We are rapidly training large numbers of people to take on RPA developer and Architect jobs. This is being done through a combination of videos (using the best open source content from across the world), classrooms (using the partner eco-system that is rapidly developing to support this), and lab work/coaching practices (the basics of operations training that a firm like Genpact has always excelled at). We are both upskilling internal people who have demonstrated a flair for this (for example, those who already know excel macros and have some kind of programming experience), as well as hiring new engineers for these roles. At the same time, there are many partner training companies where individuals can get their RPA certification and then join a firm like ours. 

For a job aspirant with hunger, curiosity and a learning mindset, there is no better time than now to be in the workforce. It is rare to get an opportunity to participate in a change of this magnitude that will throw up such incredible opportunities, both for businesses to grow and for jobs to be created. Let’s all get together and start working towards it!

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