Technology—specifically AI, robotics, and automation—is changing the workforce today and into the future.

CloudFactory CEO Mark Sears told Robotics Business Review “as the cost and speed to develop AI continues to improve, we’ll begin to see wider adoption of AI across business functions and across industries.”

He also said in the same interview that “some business processes will be human-centric, and some will be AI-centric,” but all will be dependent upon an “augmented workforce,” or an amalgamation of both people and AI.

These concepts are relevant across multiple industries, including the energy sector.

For example, Sears continues, in an AI-centric environment, typical human tasks might be assigned to AI, and in some cases that will work well. However in customer-service experiences, certain nuances of the human touch cannot be reasonably substituted with automation.

While AI techniques can supplement processes and expedite solutions, robots cannot offer the same warmth and reassurance that a live person can. However, implementing a “scalable workforce solution that integrates people and technology” can hugely improve certain business processes. In essence, Sears further explained to Robotics Business Review, “businesses that adopt AI techniques will need a scalable, human workforce.”

So, what exactly does that mean for future employment in the energy sector, as part of an increasingly automated industry? Recently, a professional panel at CERAWeek gathered to answer that question. The group shared ideas and knowledge regarding, among other things, the skills necessary to either enter the energy workforce or remain relevant there.

A few key attractive aspects of the industry have not changed: the level of pay, the work-life balance, and the exciting challenges of finding energy solutions. However, with rapid changes and increasing dependence on AI and other technologies, employees will be expected to gain some new skill sets and adapt to new ways of working.

Mobility as a critical technology, for example, will require a new level of “change management” expertise. In addition, employee upskilling to the effective use of new technologies is important.

In terms of those who will enter the energy sector, the panel discussed the need for “starting early with developing interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” according to Emerson Automation Experts. A great way to accomplish this is through outreach into community schools encouraging students at an early age to explore “their innate STEM talents.”

The panel also agreed that transparency and authenticity are non-negotiable traits in the future of energy. It is impossible to fake the passion required for the new age of energy into which the industry is entering.

Says Philippe Poutonnet, Director of Cloud AI Product Marketing at Google, there are some myths about AI across industries and its impact on future jobs. According to an article by Poutonnet in Atos, “… it’s not so much about job replacement but job transformation.”

He believes that AI will create new jobs, just as social media has done in the past decade. He argues that it isn’t acquisition of skills that will keep people employed, but rather “adaptability and the capacity to reinvent yourself” that will help professionals remain successful.

His conclusion?

“Today’s graduates need to be chameleons.”

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