Artificial intelligence will boost job growth—not squash it

17/04/20183 Minute Read

The workplace as we know it is in the midst of rapid transformation. Thanks to new technology innovations, like artificial intelligence (AI), a lot of the time-consuming work that’s been done for decades is becoming automated at an unprecedented rate. Google’s head of research Peter Norvig went as far to state that, for his kids, “wherever they will be working in 20 years probably doesn’t exist now . . . no sense training for it today.”

That said, you also want to avoid sitting on your hands and waiting for the future to arrive. Singapore’s Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) is already making plans to ensure the local workforce is future-proofed. Their “Industry Transformation Map” aims to build up competencies in four areas: artificial intelligence and data science, cybersecurity, immersive media, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Here’s how:

  • Through an AI apprenticeship program called TechSkills Accelerator, IMDA hopes to train 200 AI professionals in the next three years.
  • A Strategic Partners Program will be established to explore and build collaborations with large multinationals.
  • Finally, a vetting and support scheme for promising startups called Accreditation@IMDA will be expanded to include later-stage companies, as well as international deep-tech companies.

Enhance the workplace with AI

Such plans are prudent, given that artificial intelligence will have an increasingly greater impact on the workplace as time goes by. Many people fear that robots will take over and leave humans unemployed, which isn’t completely unfounded—after all, when was the last time you saw a rickshaw or trishaw ferrying people around the streets of Singapore?

But with proper training, development, and application, you can better leverage the AI tools at your disposal and do away with mundane tasks. Don’t get distracted by the negative view of AI—focus on what matters in your work and how the tech can improve it. Doing so will allow you and your employees to become more productive, and it may push employees to discover how they can truly add value to the bottom line once they’re free of tedious, manual tasks.

Take administrative tasks for example. Some of these tasks, like drawing up proposals, sending invoices and reminders, making sure accounts are in order, and so on, take up a lot of time—and unnecessarily so. By turning to AI, you can automate these tedious yet critical tasks, allowing your employees to redirect their attention and focus it on more strategic and valuable initiatives.

Put artificial intelligence to work

With this in mind, you and your IT team should spend an adequate amount of time evaluating the growing number of AI assistants and tools on the market to see which might help your employees enhance the customer experience—some may even improve the employee experience, as well.

At the same time, IT teams should look into training and development programs to ensure both managers and employees understand the tools at their disposal and have the skills necessary to use them to their fullest potential. Having basic data science skills, for example, would enable them to leverage data collected and crunched by AI, and apply it in making business and workplace decisions. To this end, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) recently launched a series of training programmes, targeting “eight priority and emerging skills areas to help equip working adults with the skills required across different sectors.” These skill areas include data analytics, digital media, and cybersecurity—over 400 courses are being offered for immediate enrolment.

If you’re an IT decision-maker, you should definitely consider making use of such resources. Don’t shy away from AI because of the negative hype—this technology offers a ton of benefits that can greatly improve your workplace. But make sure you’re going in prepared and fully understand how to adopt and apply AI tools before you get in too deep.

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