‘Opportunities for low-skilled youth set to decline’ | Sunday Observer

‘Opportunities for low-skilled youth set to decline’

27 October, 2019

The current 50 percent of jobs based on technical skills globally will increase to over 70 percent in the next 10 years, Director, Legal, Corporate and Government Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia and New Markets, Dr. Jasmine Begum told a forum on ‘Future of Business: Reimagining the Future of Work’ organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce last week.

She said the pathway to workplace success is investing in technical skills development. Referring to two types of jobs where in one people tell computers what to do and in the other computers dictate what to do, Dr. Begum said. Deciding on what skills will be needed for the future of work will be crucial for corporates, he said.

‘There is a vast amount of data and computation power, but how to turn data into insight to power businesses is vital,” she said. Elaborating on task hours performed by humans and machines, she said task hours performed by machines which stood at 29 percent in 2018 will increase to 42 percent by 2022, while performance by humans will come down from 71 percent to 58 percent.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IRs technological advancement is said to reduce the number of workers needed for certain tasks. Speakers also noted that it is paramount that businesses support re-skilling and up-skilling its workforce to avert loss of employment amid rapid technological advancements across the global business landscape.

Tandem Research Founder-Director Dr. Vikrom Mathur said 4IR will create a churn in the job market and added that technology led displacements will occur in entry level and mid skill jobs in IT and financial sectors.

“E-commerce will open new markets, but traditional retail jobs will no longer provide opportunities for low skilled youth,” he said.

Panellists also spoke on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for accuracy and efficiency in businesses, while at the same time, the uncertainty on whether it will replace human workers as they could perform manual repetitive tasks much more efficiently.

Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Ajith P. Perera said the draft legislation on Data Protection will be presented to the Cabinet and Parliament within the next two months and added that once the law is in force, it will be a major boost to ensure cyber security in the country. However, the Minister said that there is no software to link government bodies and that the Data Identity and Interoperability platform will be set up within six months to address this issue.

“The education system has to be reformed to provide ICT education to students from Grade One. Investments on ICT education has to be increased to create a quality workforce,” the Minister said.