The Opportunities of New Technology

As the world comes to grips with the reality of the next technological revolution, we can’t help but wonder what job opportunities will be left for us. One narrative of the future warns that as technology progresses, computers and robots will gain sentience and take over the world. While this version of the future may be a favourite of fictional Hollywood movies, we can’t deny that automation is a very real presence in the workforce. However, when it comes to the future of our jobs, we have many opportunities in a world changed by technology.

In my decade as a recruiter working in various industries, I have come to view the future the way Eric Schmidt, Former Executive Chair of Alphabet Inc., presented it in a talk at Viva Tech: “your future is you with a computer, not you replaced by a computer”. And from what I’ve seen, I believe that there are two important factors that we need to keep in mind when we think about the future:

  1. Technology will always progress.
  2. As our population ages, the number of skilled workers will decrease.

Together, these elements should make us hopeful for the future. If we grow with technology through education and work experience, we will be able to take advantage of the opportunities in our new world.

“New” technology

When it comes to the impact of new technology on the labour force, it’s not all doom and gloom. Automation will have a large impact on job tasks — it already has! — but there will always be the need for human involvement.

For example, when I first started recruiting in the construction industry for roles such as Construction Project Managers, I was mainly interested in their project experience — size, scope and value — and whether they used Microsoft® Excel for estimating. Now, I still care about their experience, but I’m also looking at their computer skills: can they work with computer-aided design (CAD), Building Information Modeling (BIM), and scheduling/planning/estimating software? There are exciting changes in construction — including shifting from using a set of blueprints to employing virtual reality tools — but instead of replacing workers, it has simply changed the skills and capabilities we’re looking for in candidates.

Baby boom and the skilled worker bust

According to Statistics Canada in 2016, individuals aged 55 and over accounted for 36% of the working-age population, the highest proportion on record since starting to record these statistics in 1976. By 2026, they predict that proportion could climb to 40%. But when we consider that the baby boomer population outnumbers the youth population, it’s clear that there is a widening gap between the number of people preparing to exit the market and the number of younger people entering the labour force to replace them.

This means that while technology may fundamentally alter the nature of our jobs, we will also see the creation of new types of employment that we won’t have enough new talent to fill.

Take, for example, the introduction of BIM software, which digitally brings together the tasks of the construction and engineering industries to promote collaboration. When baby boomers were building structures, they were accustomed to using a set of blueprints and a pencil and sharing physical documents across the office or site. Today’s construction professionals, however, are more inclined to use technology such as BIM to make the design and build of a project more efficient. And with this new technology comes an even bigger opportunity: entirely new roles such as BIM Coordinators or Designers will become more commonplace in engineering and construction as the technology is adopted by more companies.

Technology isn’t just creating new jobs in existing industries; with new innovations, we’re seeing the expansion of the job market into new sectors.

It’s clear that there is a widening gap between the number of people preparing to exit the market and the number of younger people entering the labour force to replace them.

One area that interests me is the alternative energy sector. While fossil fuels will continue to be a major energy source, renewable energy is showing immense growth. A new report by The Delphi Group for the Canadian Wind Energy Association found that the Alberta government’s plan to add 5,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2030 will deliver almost 15,000 job years of employment within the same timeframe. Many of the skills and occupations required to develop these wind projects — such as engineering, construction, operations and maintenance — are transferable from the existing fossil fuel energy sector. So, while just 10 years ago a mechanical engineer was designing industrial facilities, commercial buildings or pipeline projects, with advances in technology these engineers now have the opportunity to design mechanical systems for projects like wind farms, tidal energy, solar farms and geothermal plants. As this sector is still in its infancy, the door is open for people to help shape the future of energy. It’s an exciting time in this sector, as a new age of energy technology creates a new world of employment.

As recruiters, we need to stay informed about the new roles that are created by new technology. We also need to educate current and future job seekers about the sectors that will undoubtedly have a labour shortage to motivate individuals to go to school, work and train in new industries. And we need to do this all while working with our clients to create opportunities for on-the-job training to help create a skilled workforce that will meet the needs of each industry for years to come.

Jared Fabian, RPR, Senior Recruitment Consultant, Roevin

Jared Fabian, RPR

Senior Recruitment Consultant, Roevin

As a Senior Recruitment Consultant for Roevin, Jared Fabian is always on the lookout for the latest trends in engineering. A recruiter for the past 10 years, Jared has extensive knowledge of the end-to-end recruitment process for engineering, mining and construction positions. With a focus on creating long-lasting and beneficial relationships with clients, Jared’s expertise lies in bringing together a thorough understanding of client needs and market trends for recruitment success. Having graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Construction Engineering Technology and certified by the Institute of Professional Management, Jared is also an active volunteer for organizations such as JDRF, Win4Youth and YESS.

LinkedIn | Roevin

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