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  • AI and Automation: Our Changing World of Work

    August 16, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    A female programmer works on a new automation application.

    TAGS: technology, trends and predictions, surveys, spotlight

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    We are driving deeper into an era of artificial intelligence. In recent years, the numbers of artificial intelligence applications in the United States and in other countries have increased exponentially.

    “All of this is moving the model for jobs or parts of the jobs that are in today’s economy toward automation,” says Farouk Dey, associate vice provost and dean of career education at Stanford University.

    This impact of technology on jobs in the future, and what industry and academia must do to responsibly change the world of work will be the topic of a session titled “Does the Future of Work Belong to the Machines?” offered during The Future of Work Symposium presented by OZY EDU and Stanford Career Education.

    Dey points to a report from the World Bank that 57 percent of jobs worldwide are currently being displaced by automation. Those numbers are even higher in some of the countries that have the highest levels of manufacturing, such as Thailand, China, and India.

    “We’re seeing elements of that today in the United States, Europe, and Canada,” Dey says. “There is more of a reliance on artificial intelligence, and on using big data to influence and improve consumer behaviors and experience. All of that is going to make our work more efficient and interconnected, but it will also give birth to new jobs and new careers, while ending certain jobs as we know them.”

    For example, Dey says we’re seeing a movement in the demand for work skills from physical abilities to more cognitive abilities and schematic skills.

    “There already is in higher education a big shift in terms of what we prepare our students to do in the future, but also a big shift in industry and the types of skills employers require and the type of work that is on the ground,” he adds. “All of this is going to be driven by automation and artificial intelligence.”

    Dey says his office’s industry partners are telling him there’s a gap between the skills that are being developed within universities and the skills that are required at work. Bridging that gap, he says, will require a stronger partnership between industry and academia.

    “There needs to be personal, professional, and skill development within the university, as well as a higher emphasis on an ecosystem connections model where we’re connecting students with those opportunities,” Dey explains. “I think internships will play an even bigger role in helping to bridge that skills gap.”

    Currently, more and more students are looking to take internships at the freshman level. Dey says for companies to open up internship opportunities to students earlier in their academic careers would be beneficial. Also helpful would be a stronger partnership with industry and faculty in teaching and influencing the curriculum, and in detailing industry needs.

    “Today, we’re right in the middle of that conversation about the purpose of higher education, and there’s a little bit of push and pull about it,” Dey reports. “Are we here for skills training? Are we here for knowledge and practice? I believe we’re here for all of the above. Through events such as this, we’re looking to normalize this concept of industry and education working together to prepare future-ready graduates.”

    Click here for more information about The Future of Work Symposium.