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Future likely to be human – despite AI

By Alison McRae, Senior Director Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

Did you know that 60% of the jobs we’ll be doing in the next 10 years haven’t yet been invented? Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on that.

The world is changing so rapidly, with technology and societal shifts coming thick and fast. We are having to consider the potential impacts of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, mobile & Cloud and of course automation, all of which raises concerns about great tranches of current jobs being redundant. 

Alongside this we have an ageing workforce with significant global population growth trends and the impacts and consequences of the climate emergency, to call out just a few more of the significant factors influencing this global shift.

All of this means that understanding the potential job market, and anticipating what it could be, is becoming increasingly more important and challenging.

That’s why our Scottish Government-funded Developing Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow team at Glasgow Chamber recently partnered with DYW Lanarkshire & East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow Science Centre alongside Skills Development Scotland, Glasgow City Council and SQA to host Scotland’s Biggest Parents’ Evening.  

The theme was #jobsofthefuture, aimed at demonstrating what types of skills, qualifications and experience young people will need to succeed in this ever-changing landscape.

As our ambition to bridge the gaps between industry and education continues, it has become much more apparent that there is a fundamental need to influence the influencers - the parents and carers of our young people. 

In addition to the partners mentioned, over 30 businesses came to the Science Centre to share their knowledge about their own future jobs to 400 parents, carers and young people.

Dr Stephen Breslin, Science Centre CEO, gave a keynote speech launching STEM Futures and outlining the range of opportunities across sectors such as construction, maritime, aviation, technology and healthcare science - saying that we are going to see over 25,000 jobs, utilising science, technology, engineering and maths, emerging in the next five years in the Glasgow City Region alone.

The evening involved the BBC, STV, ScottishPower, City of Glasgow College, Virgin Money, PWC, Marriot Hotel Group, SEC and the NHS with Turning Point Scotland and many others taking part in an interactive market hub, engaging and exchanging information with the audience.

There was also a series of ‘a conversation with’ sessions with companies such as Arnold Clark and Barclays, with McTaggart Construction sharing information about many emerging roles with good salary prospects in areas such as prefabrication, wireless technology and 3D printing.

Perhaps the most comforting aspect of the evening was that despite the changes and developments coming our way in areas like AI and automation, what was emphasised was that even with all these shifts and trends the future is still likely to be human. 

Whilst AI and automation will have an impact, skills such as social intelligence, curiosity and critical thinking alongside adaptive resilience will all be key assets for these emerging jobs of the future - with many new roles likely to be high-end with strong earning potential.

What came out of the event was that raising awareness of the opportunities with the influencers attending can only help the next generation to make better informed choices as they find their path in life. 

Over 90% of those attending agreed they were now more aware of routes into jobs, particularly through apprenticeships, with 100% saying they now felt better armed to discuss career options with their children. 

Suffice to say that with those scores on the doors, I think we will be seeing a lot more of this kind of engagement happening in the future.

This article first appeared in Glasgow Chamber’s weekly column in Herald Business