I, Robot - is that the Future?

It’s easy to be fearful of the future - however the impact of technological advancement upon our working lives is not new. Over the past 20 years many jobs have indeed changed or disappeared through innovation. But a great number has also been created.

Consider this: when I finished university in 1997 Google didn’t exist – let alone Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The iPhone was still a twinkle in Steve Jobs’s eye. Since then, technology has mushroomed and entered every corner of our lives, creating new industries and a myriad of consumer products that have changed how we interact personally and professionally.

It is change not oblivion

So should we be worried that technology and AI has advanced so much that humans will become redundant, literally?
From what I‘ve read - once you get past the inflammatory headlines - it seems clear the robot revolution will shift the nature of most jobs rather than wipe them out altogether.

Yes, opportunities in some professions will decrease, notably warehousing, manufacturing, driving and construction. For most undergraduates that’s not bad news because graduate roles are unlikely to be in these areas. Your studies should allow you to add value and stay ahead of the automation threat.

Roles using S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, maths) skills are seeing a lot of expansion but it is not only the science and technology roles that are showing growth. There is also an expansion in roles involving the caring professions and dealing directly with the public..

Show your human side

Individuals with strong soft skills, particularly lateral thinking and creativity, will be in greater demand than ever before. AUT has already recognised this trend and offers students a unique programme called the AUT Edge Award, designed to help students develop and demonstrate such skills.

What I’ve learned from all this is that adapting to change and keeping your options open will be the best way to future proof your career. I am a great advocate for taking personal responsibility in all aspects of your life. This is a great example of where self-awareness and planning will help you succeed.

In a sense change is already here. Companies are under increasing pressure to keep up with shifting technology to survive and that is leading to more emphasis on recruiting and retaining talented staff.

If they could drive their competitive advantage with robots many would do so but I personally don’t think it’s possible to ever replace the depths of creativity and innovation that come with human intellect. Talent is still sought after, talent pools are small, and this is particularly true in New Zealand.

So instead of worrying about a robot taking your job in 20 years, your main concern should be to showcase your humanity now to secure that all important first graduate job. Learn how to articulate your passion, individuality, uniqueness, drive and personal values.

What employers want

As an AUT Employability Relationship Manager I speak to employers on a daily basis. Big and small. Start-ups and major multinationals. They are all looking for applicants who stand out, share company values, and are a good organisational fit – and that’s something that will never change.

To help identify candidates who will help shape their business into the future, employers are changing how they recruit. One employer told me they had added a values questionnaire to their application.

Another large company is trialling the sole use of psychometrics for interview selections. They will be putting less emphasis on grades and instead looking for well-developed soft skills, for example a candidate’s potential to lead, build strong relationships and work well in a team. Demonstrating critical thinking and good communication is also important.

Needing this extra edge to secure the job of your dreams can seem daunting, particularly if it’s different to what your teachers or lecturers have told you. However, this is where your life experience as a real person (rather than a robot) is your biggest advantage.

Whether you realise it or not, you are made up of a million elements that make you unique. The trick is to tap into those elements and project them in every application, social media platform and interview.

Foot in the door

The good news is that once you’ve got your first graduate role, a lot of what came before will become irrelevant. Let your attitude and performance do the talking rather than grades or social club participation! You never know where life is going to lead you, or what new technology is lurking round the corner, but you’re the only one who can plot that course and take the journey.

Written by AUT Employability Relationship Manager Annabel Reyes

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