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Are IT Jobs Really Endangered Due to Tech Innovations?
Francisco DeArmas, Forbes 506 Times 326 People

The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

The exponential progression of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and advanced analytics means that technologies of the future are now part of our everyday lives.

This means we use them at work and at home, every time we search on Google, use Uber, get on a plane (AI Autopilot), or use a spam filter to get rid of unwanted emails.

This innovation shift is sparking fear among many workers (especially those in the tech sector) who worry their roles will be displaced as opposed to enhanced by this technology.

In fact, a ZipRecruiter survey discovered that the majority of professionals looking for new jobs (58%) worry AI will take away more jobs than it creates.

Is it really a cause for worry?

PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that a relatively low displacement of jobs (around 3%) will occur during our current automation wave, and according to the ZipRecruiter study, AI has created about three times as many jobs as it took away in 2018.

What's more, while employers are already using AI tools, 81% of those surveyed said they preferred to hire a human over putting in a completely autonomous system.

These statistics, however, don't quell the fears of workers threatened by AI. For example, as the PwC study suggests, jobs requiring repetitive tasks or basic problem-solving are at risk.

Think back to the early years of telephony, when operators were required to physically connect calls using telephone switchboards. Soon enough, the technology evolved, and automated phone systems, voice recognition software, and the "operator" of the 21st century, Google, replaced switchboard operators.

On the other hand, look at systems admins. Traditionally, they have been responsible for tasks involving manual skills such as server configuration, operation and maintenance tasks.

But as the popularity of cloud platforms continues to rise, employers of IT specialists, are now seeking candidates who know how to manage hardware and software services and configurations on the cloud, not just servers and routers.

The increased adoption of DevOps, the internet of things and other technology trends has resulted in traditional systems admin jobs being replaced with hybrid roles requiring a mix of both hardware and software skills.

And, more importantly, employers are seeking individuals with creativity, patience and intellectual curiosity - all skills that are much more difficult to replicate with a line of code.

In reality, jobs aren't declining they're evolving.

And that's good for employers and for the job security of tech workers who want to stay relevant and drive real business value rather than just maintain current systems.

This will require not only keeping up with the latest programming languages and tech trends but also developing skills less likely to be outsourced in the future for example - architectural know-how, project management, programming expertise, etc.

Diversifying your skill sets and constantly investing in yourself can help keep your employment secured.

At the same time, as the tech industry continues to evolve, organizations must also look to retrain their workforce to ensure they have the talent they need - both today and into the future.

Recognizing that technology is changing how its employees work, Amazon already has plans in place to retrain a third of its U.S. workforce. The organization is developing new training programs to help employees either move into more advanced roles or find new jobs outside the company.

For example, Amazon's hourly warehouse workers will soon have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to move into an IT support role.

Additionally, software engineers who have computer science backgrounds will be eligible for Amazon's Machine Learning University, where the employees will have the opportunity to advance their skills by taking graduate-level courses without actually enrolling in college.

AI Powered Skills Matching

Alternatively, if organizations are in need of specific skills and must look outside their internal talent pools, they can leverage hiring workflows enabled by the innovation shift, using AI and machine learning to hire the candidates they need.

AI technology can sort through endless resumes and shortlist top candidates based on the required skills for the job. This helps bridge the skills gap that exists in many organizations by allowing HR and procurement teams to find high-quality workers while cutting hours off the candidate screening process.

As technology evolves, tech-related jobs will continue to evolve as well to accommodate the new roles created by the innovation shift. The key for employees who want to stay relevant in this digital age is to invest in advancing their skill sets.

And for organizations looking to fill specialized roles, identifying areas where they can upskill their workforce so they aren't left without the talent they need in the short term will be critical.

But in the long term, organizations will need a holistic plan that encompasses multiple workforce strategies like developing creative recruiting techniques and partnering with workforce management experts to build and nurture a talent pipeline in order to achieve success.

ZipRecruiter report's authors caution, "Although the emerging stage of AI and augmented intelligence has not yet caused widespread disruption of the labor market, guardrails are needed to support the future workforce and foster job market dynamism."


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