April 20, 2024

Tech jobs go from science fiction to reality

Job seekers often consider positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to be safe bets.

In almost all of the 10-year scenarios modeled by labor economists, they get it right. Projections from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, released in September, show an 11 percent increase in so-called “Stem” employment, to 11.5 million, by 2032, while the number of non-stem jobs Stem will rise only 2 percent. .

These will not necessarily be works of science fiction. Many functions created by technological advances will be expanded versions of those that already exist, or new functions that will address old needs in areas such as healthcare, basic infrastructure or public services.

Wind turbine technician is the most popular position on the BLS list, with projected job growth of 44.9 percent between 2022 and 2032, closely followed by nursing technicians, with projected growth of 44.5 percent. Demand for IT positions such as data scientists, information security analysts and software developers will increase by more than 25 percent.

Artificial intelligence, which is already transforming work in many sectors, will have a “huge impact” especially in fields of advanced science, says Adrian Smith, president of Britain’s National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society.

Scientists will be able to harness the power of sophisticated computers and instruments to generate and analyze enormous amounts of data and more advanced and sophisticated hypotheses.

“Being part of a team that handles large amounts of data requires a different skill set than an individual with their own instrument,” Smith says. “Data collection and processing will be at the heart of science and will increasingly involve the use of intelligent AI algorithms.”

Jobs of the future

As advances in areas such as AI threaten jobs globally, this FT series looks at what roles will be in demand over the next decade and how employers are preparing for them.

Part One: The next generation workforce
The second part:
From science fiction to reality
Part three: New jobs, green jobs
Fourth part: The enigma of care
Fifth part: Peaceful hiring
Sixth part: Professional questions answered

Among the most publicized roles working with AI are rapid engineers. Specializing in coding and large language models, they know how to command AI to perform tasks or create particular results. And although experts are divided on its need in the distant future, most agree that demand will increase in the coming years.

Talent site Upwork found that searches for “rapid engineering” began increasing since April last year, about six months after ChatGPT launched. Between Q4 2022 and Q2 2023, it saw a 1,500 percent increase in AI-related generative search results.

“Supervisory positions are going to be increasingly sought after and there is an enormous shortage [of workers]” says Adam Niewinski, managing partner at venture capital firm OTB Ventures. “This requires a special skill set. “It’s a very strict logic that you have to follow.”

A growing awareness of AI’s shortcomings, such as its tendency to declare inaccuracies as facts or carry algorithmic biases, also requires a range of critical, regulatory and creative skills.

Teodora Danilovic is an agile engineer at startup AutogenAI, which uses AI to help companies write bids for contracts. She says human skills, rather than technical ones, will be valued to monitor and verify AI work.

“We have the contextual understanding. . . “Understanding bias, we have creativity, emotional intelligence,” he said at the Financial Times AI Summit last year. “We are capable of thinking about unknown unknowns. . . “AI is very limited in the sense that it can only work on what it has been trained to do.”

AI and other advances are also transforming white-collar jobs such as consulting, compliance, and law.

Frank Diana, a futurist and partner at Tata Consultancy Services, is exploiting AI’s ability to rapidly process big data and pick up on signals invisible to humans. When a client recently asked TCS to report on how remote work would affect transportation use, for example, the consulting firm posed the question to AI, then human analysts examined what they found.

“The AI ​​does some of the heavy lifting, the human involved is able to apply some of their critical thinking skills,” he says. “Mainly it was a big time saver.”

Digital twins – virtual copies of objects, structures or environments that can be used to simulate scenarios that could then be applied to the real world – can be applied in a mind-boggling variety of fields, Diana says, changing roles from urban planning to individualization. drug discovery.

Another hot area will be virtual and augmented reality. Apple and Meta, which have launched devices with headsets, foresee mixed reality, or XR, becoming commonplace in interactions ranging from socializing in virtual spaces to watching concerts and holding work meetings.

The skills needed to design these types of experiences have traditionally been concentrated in the games industry and are already in high demand.

“In recent years, there has been an influx of talent into the games sector, with everything from architecture and manufacturing to XR companies competing for graduates coming from games,” says Professor James Bennett, director of StoryFutures, a Royal Holloway project. focused on training programs for emerging technologies.

Their research found a lack of experience and technical skills among immersive workers. The shortage is partly due to the rapid acceleration of the sector, Bennett says. “There are a decent number of graduates and people enrolling in courses if the games industry was static, but the games industry is growing, the metaverse sector is exploding.”

Chris Marotta, design director at global digital products studio Ustwo, compares the rise to the effect of smartphone design on digital experiences.

“If you’re interested in designing the future of how we interact, both with each other and with computers, this area is the place to do it because expectations will change dramatically.”

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