On Thursday 4th February 2021, the South African Jewish Report invited FinChatBot to join a webinar titled:

“The Useless Class – Will humans still have jobs in the future?” 

The webinar welcomed Antoine Paillusseau (Co-founder and CEO of FinChatBot), Professor Tshilidzi Marwala (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg), Mic Mann (CEO of Singularity University South Africa), Liza Manoussis (Founder of Global Education), Lesley-Anne Gatter (Head of People at Investec) and Daniella Freinkel (Head of People at Vitality Group).

The panel explored some interesting insights and thoughts regarding artificial intelligence and how it will affect jobs. Here are some highlights from the webinar. You can also watch the full webinar here

Tech To Enhance, Not Replace

With the rapid incorporation of artificial intelligence into the business environment, individuals are growing increasingly concerned that AI technology will take over jobs once performed by humans. The panel was unanimous in their opinion that technology will not mean fewer jobs for employees. Rather, it will result in a shifting of roles and functions for those employees.

FinChatBot agrees with this premise. Technology will not replace jobs. It will improve a business’s operational efficiency, automating basic, repetitive assignments and freeing employees to handle more complex issues and tasks. 

Employees can be taught new skill sets to handle more intricate areas of the business. As they learn, they become proficient in more than one business function and can operate across different departments. This type of flexibility results in employees becoming far greater assets to their companies.

The Tech Talent Pool Waters Need To Be Deeper

As companies increasingly rely on technology, there is a growing demand for individuals who possess the knowledge, skills and adaptability to fit into this new business environment. However, there remains a large gap between market demand and current market supply in South Africa. 

A few factors are contributing to this limited supply:

Tech Talent Locally vs Abroad

The current education system in certain regions lags behind its compatriots, especially as it relates to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This has a bearing on the quality of engineers and other tech talent coming through the system. As a result, many individuals have resorted to enrolling in overseas universities to obtain the required skills and knowledge to operate in this environment.

The pay gap between startups and tech giants

The second factor revolves around pay. There is a huge gap between what tech talent can earn in South Africa compared to what they can earn globally. Big tech companies can offer big salaries and, therefore, can attract the cream of the crop when it comes to tech talent. The local talent pool remains limited as overseas corporations continue to attract South African engineers.

Final thoughts

Even in an increasingly technology-laden business world, humans will never become ‘the useless class’. Artificial intelligence may enhance many aspects of one’s business but it will never replace the job market. AI will, however, result in a shift in job functionality as workers start focusing on different aspects of the business. Employees will need different skills, knowledge and adaptability to meet the new job functionality requirements. 

Going forward, these skills and abilities will become the new normal and for that to happen effectively, SA universities and other learning institutions will need to be re-imagined to adequately equip individuals to operate in this AI-infused business space.



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