How will Artificial Intelligence transform the future of engineering jobs?

As part of our blog series all about how AI will impact our five core sectors, we aim to inform our candidates all about how this technology will transform the future of engineering jobs in this instance and how to prepare for it.

There is little doubt that AI is transforming jobs across the engineering industry and this is only set to increase.  The adoption of automation, robotics and extreme connectivity as a result of the integration of the IoT will place pressure on low and middle-skilled workers. However, there will be an increased demand for skilled and adaptable industry professionals.

In fact, sector analysts anticipate the creation of new companies and sectors, alongside roles that do not even exist yet, which proves that despite any uncertainty, exciting new prospects are afoot.

The first jobs to bear the brunt of automation include clerical work, sales, customer service and support functions. This is because robotic process automation, automatic reporting  and virtual assistants are becoming increasingly popular.

Lower and middle-skilled workers can ensure their survival by re-skilling into tasks that extreme automation cannot perform. It is also worth considering that AI is evolving into more advanced natural language processing, which means that higher-skilled workers who carry out routine tasks may also be at risk.

However, current forecasts show that AI should lead to a rise in jobs that is greater than roles which will be lost. The World Economic Forum predicts that machines and algorithms in the workplace are expected to create 133 million new roles globally, but cause 75 million jobs to be displaced by 2022.

This means that now is the time for engineers to adapt and embrace changes to the sector so that they can progress and continue to forge successful careers.

Engineers have always had to be mindful of and adapt to changes in technology. They must also consistently learn new skills to keep up to date with the latest developments their industry has to offer.

Software engineers, for example, will be sure to face several technological changes which will impact their career and they must stay abreast of them if they wish to remain relevant.

Due to the fast-paced nature of technology, engineers will have to learn new skills more quickly than ever before to be the best that they can be at their career and to keep ahead of the competition.

Rather than becoming entrenched in a certain way of working, engineers should always be open to developing techniques with the latest available tools, in turn making them a more attractive prospect to would-be employers.

Skills that everyone will need in future include knowing how to live with robots, how to work alongside robots and how to design work so that the interaction between robots and humans remains as balanced as possible.

The engineers who will do well are those who understand the capabilities of AI and design and engage positively with it. This will mean that they can work to the highest standard in collaboration with this technology, rather than using their time and energy unproductively to fight against it.

The simple truth is that no lone individual is going to be able to understand and fathom all of the different AI techniques that will enable them to do their job better. The critical skill will be to figure out partners, organisations and businesses who have the tools in place to help them stay current and perform to their utmost ability.

In the short-term, people may not want to embrace a specific AI technology because they fear it might leave them with less work to do. However, it is this technology that might well enable good to be delivered more effectively or created more cost-effectively and to a higher quality.

If automation can produce lots of goods and services in a reliable fashion, it will pave the way for people to work more constructively, focusing on areas and honing skills that are beyond the capabilities of AI technology.

What is clear is that we by no means want to end up in a situation of technological unemployment. The solution is not to expect people to learn new skills so that they are more capable than robots and AI. It is to effectively redistribute and take full advantage of the abundance that will be created by the evolution of AI.