BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The human role in an increasingly automated workforce

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

During her speech at the annual “The Future of Work” conference in Plainsboro, Jane Oates, the president of a non-profit media entity, pointed to a quote from Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma: “In 30 years, a robot will likely be on the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO.”

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association and Einstein’s Alley event looked into the future at the roles automation will play in all sectors of business.

Einstein’s Alley’s Katherine Kish talked of a modern day reality, where human workers are becoming obsolete.

“Administrative assistants, researchers, clerks, all the people who used to be in offices, are no longer needed,” she said. “They have been replaced by digital software.”

On the bright side, Kish says that humans will always be needed to program, build and fix robots; the World Economic Forum estimates that even though 75 million jobs are expected to be replaced by robots, 133 million new jobs will be created.

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka says the challenge is preparing students today for jobs that don’t exist tomorrow.

“That’s why I keep coming back to the competencies … things like critical thinking, and teamwork, and data analysis. Those types of skills that can transgress across industry,” said Siekerka.

Oates emphasized that even though change is happening faster today than it ever has before, it’s only going to get faster.