CompTIA: IT world has to respond to the costs of automation

AI, automation and M2M learning is all very topical but it could well costs lots of people their jobs and the IT world needs to be part of the solution to that situation

The channel has been warned that it has a role to play and cannot sit on the sidelines as increasing automation and AI puts many traditional jobs at risk.

Speaking at the CompTIA member and partner conference in London the industry lobby group's CEO Todd Thibodeaux said that thousands of jobs could be at risk as technology replaces an increasing number of roles.

Driverless vehicles could put many in the transport industry out into the cold and there are moves by retailers to use more automation and self-service technology that could spur redundancies there.

The response of the channel is not only to prepare for that changing world by making sure its own sales people are skilled up and ready to add value but that there is an open mind about taking on more workers from other fields to plug the skills and employment gap.

"The industry is going to be facing a lot of challenges in the future. we have all these new technologies like AI, robotics, VR, machine learning, autonomous vehicles that have the potential to displace lots of workers and our industry is going to have to be part of the solution," he said.

"Where are these people going to go to work?" he asked "We have to figure out what the new jobs are that don't exist today."

He said that it was looking at starting a workforce think tank to focus on workforce automation to bring together industry leaders to consider how the tech world could respond to future changes.

"Being part of the solution is being part of the dialogue and helping lead the conversation about how we can address some of these issues," he said.

One of the ways that the channel and vendors can help is to offer some of those potentially displaced by automation the chance to work in IT.

"Our industry still faces a shortfall of people. When we start to see a massive dislocation of people in unskilled industries we have to take on the challenge of skilling those people up to take on the jobs."

"We still have 500,000 open jobs [in the US] and two million open tech jobs worldwide," he added that some of those could be filled by drivers and retail workers that had lost their positions thanks to AI and automation.

Thibodeaux said that the industry also needed to be prepared for a backlash once people started to lose their jobs thanks to automation.

"My main message is to get people to realise it could happen and it could happen really fast and we end up with a lot of unemployed people," he said

"If you are an implementer or reseller of these technologies then you are going to have a really good future but understand this impacts other people too," he added.

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