During Tech Week 2023, Kate Neilson interviewed panelists Betul Genc, Dr. John Fong, and Tashi Dorjee about the future of work in tech. Understanding how tech jobs may evolve over the coming years is not only important for working professionals looking to advance their career, but also for companies who want to upskill their workforce and attract the best talent.
Tech Week is a FREE week-long virtual series hosted by General Assembly that features sessions around trending tech topics. It is a great opportunity for people to participate in discussions with industry experts, ask questions, and learn about the latest trends that will shape the year ahead.
AI: FRIEND OR FOE?
The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the workplace is a hot topic of discussion among professionals and experts alike. At the forefront of this conversation is ChatGPT, a machine-learning model developed by OpenAI, which is leaving many people curious about how it will change the way we work.
While ChatGPT can be a valuable tool—not an enemy—for tech jobs, the importance of human intelligence guiding its use must be emphasized. The technology often presents biases that only a human’s perspective can remove, leaving it best suited for reducing repetitive tasks or aiding in research. AI, therefore, should be seen as a complement to human intelligence, not a replacement for it.
Dr. Fong put it best when saying “We will use AI to work on low value or lower-value work, whereas humans will move up the value chain, so to speak, and contribute in more productive ways.”
With continued research and development, ChatGPT and other AI tools may prove to be valuable assets in improving productivity and efficiency in the workplace. If nothing else, it will be an area to monitor closely. Kate shared a fascinating perspective from someone who told her “this narrative of ‘AI is going to take your job’ needs to be modified. It is more likely that someone who knows how to use AI is going to take your job.”
CURRENT SHORTAGES IN THE JOB MARKET
Mass lockdowns due to COVID-19 and the lack of international talent has impacted the current job making. Many businesses are facing staff and skill shortages this year, which makes it a top priority for employers to build some more resilience into their skills and talent strategies.
There are three main shortages in the job market right now: talent shortage, skill shortage, and labor shortage, and they are treated as three different things.
1. Talent Shortage
To tackle the issue of talent shortage, employers need to redefine job descriptions and identify the key skills required for the role. Any organization that addresses the most critical aspects of their work and supports their employees holistically will be able to be a future-ready organization that can attract and maintain the best talent.
2. Skill Shortage
It is not just technical skills that are important, but also human-centric skills like communication, collaboration, strategic thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence. The utility for these soft skills cannot be replaced by the tacit skills required to perform one’s job. They are also difficult to teach, which is why they are one of the five most in-demand tech skills today.
3. Labor Shortage
Betul believes “the labor shortage that we see in many industries like SMB, in the warehouses or supply chain logistics, is related to people revisiting the purpose of their work during the pandemic. Some have actually changed industries.” This only reiterates the importance for job seekers and employers to clearly know the type of lifestyle that any given role provides. This will help people on both sides of the table at an interview have honest and real conversations.
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RETURNING TO WORK
The debate around whether to bring employees back into the workplace or continue remote work rages on. While there may not be one right answer that fits every company or worker, our panelists highlighted the need for employers to focus on creating an enticing work environment that supports this new style of working.
One way to do this is by prioritizing the well-being and happiness of employees. Creating new roles such as “Chief Happiness Officer” or “Chief Engagement and Entertainment Officer” will ensure that colleagues are well taken care of and that company culture cascades from top to bottom. Focusing on employee well-being will enable organizations to create environments where employees feel valued and supported, leading to increased engagement, productivity, and longer periods of tenure.
Sustainability is another way to create an enticing work environment. With more and more companies prioritizing net-zero carbon footprints, new roles in research, planning, design, compliance, and facilities management are starting to emerge. However, it’s vital for reskilling and upskilling to occur so employees have the necessary skills to succeed in these roles. By focusing on sustainability, organizations can attract and retain employees who are passionate about making a positive impact on the world.
Employers who want a recruiting edge can familiarize themselves with our White Paper: The State of Tech Talent Acquisition in 2023, where we discuss insights after surveying 1,000 talent leaders from 10 countries who were hiring for in-demand technology roles in 2023. Tashi also has a great tip for employers: that halfway through their interview process they should have something like a “reverse interview”, especially with younger generations. He suggested interviewers ask them, “What do you value? Or what do you want us to see and know about you? The size of your company doesn’t really matter in this regard as much as gaining an understanding of how to deliver value for these individuals so that they’re driven by a purpose beyond the paycheck.”