Given the digital era that we live in and the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence and IoT, it is important to question how these technological changes will result in new labour dynamics. Recently, I was part of a debate that focused precisely on this: the present and future of work in Argentina.
I was joined in the debate by Dr. Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Dean of the School of Government of the University Torcuato Di Tella, who presented his book, “After Work: Argentine Employment In The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Along with Yeyati, I shared the panel with Mg. Gabriel Fidel, Professor of Political Economy FCPyS UN Cuyo (National University of Cuyo), and Dr. Pablo F. Salvador, Professor of Labour Economics of UNCuyo.
I would like to share some of the key ideas from the debate, and also some of our experiences here at Belatrix.
What are the factors that come into play in the future of work?
According to the Chamber of the Argentine Software Industry, in the last 60 years, humanity has experienced faster and deeper changes than in the previous 5,000 due to industrial and technological revolutions. As a result, we are not far from facing a reality where every aspect of our lives is mediated by technology. What does this mean for the labour force? It means that technology will take over manual tasks that are repetitive or predictable, or that have a low cognitive demand. Studies estimate that in 15 years, 50% of tasks will be automated.
In addition, people’s lifestyles are changing and a new perception towards work is emerging: Now people look for healthy work environments and personal satisfaction. Also, as team work is becoming key in our labour practices, increasingly, collaborative teams are replacing silos; enterprises are adopting co-working models and ad-hoc teams.
In a landscape where automatization and teamwork are leading the way, which competences will we require in the future?
Personal skills, the big differentiator
As a result of new social dynamics and technological changes, companies are placing human skills as their top priorities. Critical thinking, emotional intelligence, autonomy, flexibility, adaptability and leadership are some of the skills that will set the tone for the labour field. One study found that only 9% of the occupations that require creativity and leadership will be automated in the next 15 years and 56% of these occupations will be in high demand. In contrast, 60% of the rest of the occupations will be automated.
Is Argentina prepared for these changes?
Currently, Argentina promotes the agro exporting sector and the wine industry, and although they are important for our economy, I believe it is crucial to emphasize and mobilize the technology sector to build international commerce. If we don’t give enough visibility to this sector, we won’t have a relevant presence in the areas that generate more knowledge, more value and consequently, more jobs.
In addition, from my perspective, universities in Argentina, although improving, are not yet prepared to train the competences and skills needed in the future. Even though Argentina has excellent professionals in IT, we need to change our education system to provide a personalized approach to students that offers not only technical knowledge and tools, but also, the possibility to develop communication skills, creativity and leadership which are more than ever vital to succeed in the labour market.
Where does Belatrix position itself within this landscape?
At Belatrix, we aim to establish a dialogue with universities and schools in order to offer students new and enriching experiences, and to allow them to interact with experts in the technology sector. We have carried out activities such as hackathons, conferences, meetups, and internships. In addition, we are aware of the importance of personal skills, which is why our talent acquisition team emphasizes finding people with quality, flexibility, innovation and leadership attributes, that are aligned with our company culture and our core methodology, Agile Development.
The labour market is changing as fast as technology, which is why we need to change our educational systems to encourage students from very young ages, to be curious, critical and creative. Likewise, as technology organizations, we need to establish connections with schools and universities so future professionals are prepared to face and lead the future of work.