A survey of business leaders has discovered that Australian companies are currently leading as the “least prepared” for the arrival of AI technologies among selected major economies, despite spending the second-largest amount of money on automation (Source: The Guardian). Similarly, Infosys AI maturity survey found 23% of Australian business leaders believe their company lacks the skills needed to capitalise on AI.
This is a worrying trend as more nations such as Singapore, are on full speed towards materialising its goals to be one of the world’s most productive smart cities. This is due to Australia’s dwindling pool of talent, employment issues and lack of open data to set the right environment in supporting this phenomenon. Ultimately, Australia needs to embrace the AI takeover to be a smart nation in the near future.
Issues faced by Australia
To set the right foundation, AI requires proficiency in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills, digital proficiencies, creativity and problem-solving, as well as ongoing learning. From a survey, this is what Australia is currently lacking which SThree is able to assist with as our specialist consultants focus on each vertical market of the STEM industry. They have in-depth knowledge of their relevant sectors which can be of great support to organisations which are looking to adopt AI.
A 2015 Ceda report found that 40% of Australian jobs were under threat from automation. Automation includes both mechanised robots (whether humanoid or drone-shaped) and artificially intelligent software programs. It is also predicted to eliminate 6% of the jobs in the U.S. in the next five years. This includes not just low-wage employees but highly skilled, knowledge-based staff who could see their jobs decimated in the next decade. In particular, financial analyst jobs could be the worst hit in the estimated 30% of banking sector jobs lost to AI for the next five to ten years (Source: CNN).
Large Australian companies are starting to invest an average of $8 million a year in AI, which is second in the world behind the United States.
These companies are also coping with concerns about job security and a shortage of technical skills needed to implement new technology. However, this has been contested by the University of New South Wales professor of AI, Toby Walsh, who said that figure was unlikely as the number of new jobs created would be just as many as those eliminated by automation. New jobs come with new concerns over the maintenance of these technologies and this includes the ability to anticipate potential crisis such as system errors. Hence, more training needs to be catered to the workforce of the future to equip them with the right skills in technology. This can come in the form of 21st century vocational training, innovative public education models like P-TECH (which IBM pioneered), coding camps, professional certification programs and more (Source: WIRED). These programs can prepare both students and mid-career professionals for new collar roles ranging from cybersecurity analysts to cloud infrastructure engineers. AI will thereby create more jobs but workers will need to adopt relevant skills to fit these available roles. Nevertheless, a wipe-out of jobs would be felt mostly by entry-level workers where skill-sets tend to pale in comparison with sophisticated robotics and machines.
AI’s future in Australia
In light of the above concerns, Australia is gradually cultivating a suitable climate for AI to be brought into society with its positivity towards open data. The government have been embracing concept of “open data” since 2015 when it released its Public Data Policy Statement, formalising their commitment to data-driven innovation.
The up and coming 30th Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence was on 19th and 20th August this year. This was an annual conference that is dedicated to its commitment in fostering research communication and collaboration amongst Australasian AI community since its inception. The conference covered a broad range of topics including AI applications and innovations, robotics, machine learning and applications.
Additionally, the country is anticipating the launch of what classifies as the smartest and most technologically advanced office in the world. Unispace is designing the largest corporate development in the Southern Hemisphere for an undisclosed client. The building in Australia is expected to be future-proof to remain relevant even in 2030, according to Dean Rikanovic, Unispace design principal in Australia.
This meant the incorporation of artificial intelligence, around 50 different work environments and adding plenty of wellness elements and amenities to keep employees happy (Source: BisNow). A robot concierge will greet visitors and employees as they enter the lobby of the new building, according to Rikanovic. The robot has the ability to understand and speak 28 languages. Biometric facial recognition and hand scanners will also provide secure entry.
With the above mentioned, it is evident that Australia is increasingly aware of the importance in embracing new technologies whilst integrating it into the daily lives of the common man. Nevertheless, more needs to be done in terms of attitudinal and behavioural change with greater awareness of AI, especially in terms of its dwindling talent pool in this area. Progressive is committed to scout talents possessing the relevant expertise to match with the potential job openings in light of AI including those that may be newly sprouted. One such area is cybersecurity.
If you would like to find out more about the talent pool within AI, feel free to contact the Progressive Recruitment Team at [email protected] who can share more information with you. You may also follow our LinkedIn page for more industry related updates.