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Who are the new professionals?

How technology is shaping skills needed in the workforce

Tides By Jay Shedd

There is a prediction that the metaverse will create a virtual office space where our avatars will meet up to discuss projects or interact with management, while our physical selves remain at home plugged in with a headset.

Some are worried that machines will take over all jobs and humans will become obsolete.

While these conjectures make for interesting science fiction movies, realistically there will simply be a shift in skills and duties as humans integrate technology into the workplace as a tool rather than a crutch.

We’ve known for quite some time that technology was going to change the workforce and the way we do business. But we may have not expected the scope and speed at which technology has transformed not only business and the workforce but our daily lives.

The Guam Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Long-Term Occupational Projections for 2018 to 2028 predict that by 2028 the following occupations will increase: computer and information systems managers (14 percent); computer and information research scientists (16.7 percent); computer system analysts (14.3 percent); network and computer administrators (14 percent); and all other computer occupations (30 percent).

There are new occupations in information and digital technology that are now vital to private and public organizations that were very rare or even unheard of just a few years ago, such as data analyst, data scientist, social media specialist or manager, digital specialist or manager, or other occupations related to emerging technology, like cyber security and green technology.

No one could have predicted the accelerated adoption of technology as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, workers are expected to have digital and technical skills even in industries not strictly engaged in technology.

At the very least, workers are expected to be computer literate, to use digital collaboration tools, or be adept at other tools as organizations digitalize their operations.

The misuse of technology platforms is becoming less tolerated, leading to responsible technology training or tech ethics for both technical professionals and professionals in adjacent fields that use technology to collect consumer data, interact with customers, and deliver products and services.

In addition, human-machine interaction protocols will become more important as technologies such as AI and the internet of things change the way we operate at work.

Soft skills are needed to apply technology in everyday operations and interactions. To stay relevant, professionals will have to excel at active learning, managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning and communication.

The computer science, digital and information technology fields still require curiosity, problem-solving and flexibility. Human interaction will become increasingly valuable as more tasks are automated and taken over by artificial intelligence, placing value in skills like empathy and emotional intelligence.

Emerging technologies will constantly require new skills. Right now, two of the fastest growing industries are green technology and cybersecurity.

As many organizations and countries pledge to reduce emissions, there will be an increase in green technology and the need for experts in that field. While green jobs are expected to grow in electrical efficiency, power generation, and the automotive sector, they will also be found in other industries, like health care, logistics, fleet management, and construction.

Experts estimate that the clean energy transition will generate 10.3 million net new jobs globally by 2030.

There is an increased demand for cybersecurity professionals as public concern over privacy and safety increases and cyberattacks and data breaches become rampant.

According to a 2021 article from Beyond the Numbers published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 31.2 percent. This occupation involves carrying out security measures that protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

But how will we meet the demand for these new skills? We have an excellent university, community colleges and other training programs that have been adding these skills to their offerings for years. But what can we do today as we wait for a new cohort of degree or certification holders?

We’ll be hearing the phrase “reskilling” a lot more as organizations adopt new technologies while workers are trained in new skills to transition into new roles and others will be upskilled as their existing roles are expanded.

The traditional career is linear. Workers go from school to specialized training then to the workforce. Once in the workforce, progress was marked by rungs on the career ladder, which include increasing responsibility and promotions.

However, according to data collected from LinkedIn as part of the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report, workers are “pivoting” between professions with significantly different skill sets and navigating mid-career job transitions by reskilling or upskilling.

This might seem negative. However, it can accomplish two things: it helps organizations address skill shortages in technical roles and workers may find more fulfillment in new roles. Done correctly, it can be a win-win situation.

Employers can step in to help uplift their employees by helping their employees to reskill or upskill through online training, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, or working with local educational institutions. Especially in the tight-knit community, we have here on the islands, we want to take care of our own. We want to encourage dedicated employees in our company to thrive.

While technology may take over menial and routine tasks, humans will take on new responsibilities and redirect their focus. I think we’ll find that many are willing to take up the challenge.

Jay R. Shedd is executive vice president of CPL, the parent company of PTI Pacific Inc. which does business as IT&E, IP&E and Travelr. He has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, business development, sales, and marketing. Send feedback to jay.shedd


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