Claire Koryczan on the importance of continuous learning and why employers must empower their people to thrive in the new economy.
There is nothing new about automation. What’s new is that it's not just redefining our jobs or, in some cases, even taking them away, it is also entering our homes. I recently invited Alexa into my home. At first, it felt like I was in an episode of Humans, instructing Alexa to order me dinner, and then more adventurously order an Uber for me. What at first seemed odd, now seems natural – even my two-year old son is asking Alexa to play CBeebies for him.
Every day there is a new technology platform, algorithm or API that enhances our capabilities and opens up new possibilities. But, with each new frontier comes fresh, unanswered moral, ethical and privacy concerns. In the workplace, we are seeing half of our youngest and most educated millennials starting to experience an increase in competition for entry level jobs. No longer are they just competing amongst their peers, but against artificial intelligence.
Moving with the times
There is no getting away from it. This new world is evolving faster than it can be regulated. It can be challenging to navigate successfully both personally and professionally, even for the tech-savvy. More so if you are a leader within an organisation that is being disrupted by change. Every industry will be affected in its own way.
What can we do about it? Keep learning. I have seen first-hand, both for myself, and the clients that we work with, how learning with and through your peers is a powerful antidote to a world that is moving so fast. Demystifying the underlying technology and envisioning how it can be applied within your business is not only empowering, it’s exciting and fun.
Learning as we go
I am also an evangelist for continuous learning. It’s not enough to invest once, twice or three times a year, you have to keep learning: about technology, innovation and humanity. I want to understand how to create my multi-million-pound app so I can retire early and live in Bali. I want to know how to test ideas that add value and growth using the tools that are at my fingertips, and how to make AI help me in my work and personal life. I’d like to know what all the hype is about with Blockchain and if this is something that will revolutionise me and my expenses. And, most importantly, how to protect myself online, when there are data breaches that compromise personal data on what seems to be a daily basis.
As a result, I want to feel empowered about the opportunities we have ahead. Constantly updating my knowledge, and feeling like ‘I get this’ is helping to remove my fear and anxiety about the future (especially as a 40 plus-year-old) and instead embrace it with curiosity and excitement. I want to remain as relevant as I possibly can and contribute positively to a vibrant economy now, and in the future.
Preparing for tomorrow
As humans we are driven to progress, to learn and evolve. We are the real learning machines.
To participate fully and stay ahead, you don’t need to be a millennial. It’s about having the right mindset; to adapt, think and behave differently. We all have a responsibility for the future; as individuals, as businesses and policymakers.
The Apprenticeship Levy is a step towards this. But there is so much more still to do. Education is essential in the workplace to prepare all employees for a future where jobs require digital literacy and fluency as an absolute minimum. We also need to ensure people who have been made redundant have access to the skills that will them to thrive in their next role, whatever that might be.
The future looks bright
In order to see where the opportunities are for us in the new world of work, we need to approach it from a different perspective, and from a place of confidence about the diverse value we bring. AI in the workplace could present awesome and unimaginable new ways to stimulate growth.
Human value will increasingly lie in the intangible. The things that computers can’t do well; innovation, creativity, empathy and relationships – for example. We can never replace the innate desire of humans to connect and relate to others, to feel like we belong.
In business, there is no doubt that we will become more efficient as a result of AI. When we give ourselves the time and space to free our minds, incredible things happen; Elon Musk is great evidence of this. In the future, being more human and freeing up our time will be wildly liberating. When we clear our minds of all the meaningless tasks, we are able to focus on the real issues that make the world a better place.
Claire Koryczan is Managing Partner at Decoded. Decoded transforms business. Through its world class technology and innovation education programmes, it is driving, supporting and impacting change in the workplace.
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