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Hi Watson, I want to improve my career perspectives

Estimate of jobs loss and jobs created in different areas considering 18 Countries (Australia, Brasil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, UK and US). As shown, jobs losses, left, exceed jobs created, right. Credit: WEF

There is no question that the Digital Transformation will kill several jobs as well as create new ones. What is different from the previous waves of transformation that hit humanity in the past is the change in knowledge/skills that will be required. This change is likely to be continuous and fast paced.

At the time of the industrial revolution farmers dropped the hoe to pick up wrenches and screwdrivers. Yes the job was quite different but the skills required could be learnt on the job, little extra knowledge was needed.

Not so in the ongoing transformation.

Millions of workers, including white collars, will need to acquire new knowledge and skills to meet the changing demands. The whole education area is, and will be, transformed.
Yesterday I attended the graduation ceremony at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where my youngest son graduated, and the provost said in his introduction.

“our education programs not longer have the goal to increase our students’ knowledge but to increase their thinking skills and their capability to act”

Of course this does not mean that knowledge is no longer required, it just emphasises that it is no longer the must have condition for a single person. As long as that person can “access” knowledge, hence have the thinking instrument to access it and the capability to act on it it is fine.

This new scenario goes hand in hand with the news that IBM is offering, through Watson, a slate of services to hourly workers, like baristas, waiters, retail workers (I will post something tomorrow on the looming automation that will hit these professions) to coach them into new careers. According to the US Department of Labour 58% of US workforce are paying by the hour, that is 80 million workers, and the situation in other Countries is likely similar.

IBM has partnered with Kronos (a company offering a workforce management platform) to offer a tool helping hourly workers develop their careers. The tool provides customised career-path coaching.

This won’t remain a unique offer for long. I bet several companies will start to leverage the opportunity offered by the growing gap of existing knowledge and the impossibility for any person to remain updated on anything. Tools for offering the right micro-course at the right time will become common.
I spoke few months ago with professors at Milan Polytechnic and they told me that they are moving from developing a big course that would fit the needs of anybody to developing many micro-courses that can be dynamically assembled to fit the need of a specific person.

Next year I will be involved in the development of a program on Digital Transformation with EIT Digital and IEEE targeting a broad audience, consisting of 108 modules that can be assembled, and customised to fit individual needs. More and more sophisticated tools will become available to discover knowledge on the web and to package it into micro pills, ready to be swallowed by an individual person as need arises. Notably, the need will be discovered by other tools aware of the present knowledge of that person and on the knowledge gap with respect to what that person needs here and now, for executing a task or for fostering her career.

The person digital twin will be instrumental in this knowledge assessment and customisation, as well as in steering the most effective delivery form. All together this will not just meet the growing needs of continuous education, it will disrupt the whole education industry.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.