GMIS 2017 Day 2: The Great Debate: Skills 4.0
This panel was hosted by Axel Threlfall, Editor-at-Large at Reuters, and featured notable guests: -Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, Co-Director and Oxford Martin Citi Fellow, Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, University of Oxford -David Hoey, Chief Executive O cer, WorldSkills International -Tod Laursen, President of Khalifa University Manufacturers of today must “upskill” their workers to prepare them for the jobs they will be doing 20 years from now, the summit heard, with concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) replacing labour described as ‘scaremongering’ by a leading academic. “If you go back to the first industrial revolution you will find not a single argument that is being raised in the contemporary debate that was not raised back then,” said Dr Benedikt Frey. Panellists agreed technology is advancing so fast that young people entering university today will be working with products that have not yet been invented and will have unimaginable opportunities. But Dr Benedikt Frey sounded a note of caution, saying that while technology may be moving fast, the implementation was not happening as fast as expected, citing similarities to the first industrial revolution, when it took nearly 100 years for the economic impact of widespread use of machines to be seen. He advised manufacturers to carefully study the occupational changes that are taking place in the market and try to plan ahead by upskilling the workers, so they will still be able to be usefully employed 20 years from now. For Laursen, artificial intelligence may not be as threatening to jobs as perceived wisdom suggests. He cited his experience of watching the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge as an example of how far the technology has to go in some areas, for example creating a robot to replace engineers and technicians in a maintenance environment, as teaching them to select the right tool and use it correctly is proving to be a challenge to robotics engineers. While Hoey was keen to emphasise the need for young people to consider roles thought ‘dirty’ by older generations, for example, welding, which now requires advanced technological skills, the importance of universities in teaching analytical skills that help adapt to change and acquire new skills was also cited.