A Discussion on The Future of Work at The Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017
They say the future is automation and it sure seems that way. If
you’re following the trends in technology, it looks like the robots are
coming and they’re coming for our jobs. In the car manufacturing
business, robots have taken over the assembly line. Things that needed
to be done by humans are slowly being replaced with robots. Soon enough,
these bots could move from the assembly line and make their way into
the service industry.
Technology is slowly replacing people who offer services. Before I
got hooked on ExpressPay to pay for my airtime credit, I used to buy
scratch cards from the guy in the streets. But now I can easily whip out
my phone and easily purchase credit online. I really have no need to
buy from the guy in the street selling credit or the person at the
corner with an umbrella stand with a table advertising mobile money
In the US, I hardly had the use of a fuel attendant to fuel my car. I
just used my credit card and swiped at the machine and entered the
amount I wanted. Is it too far-fetched to think that the same thing
can’t be replicated at Ghanaian fuel stations? Perhaps fuel attendants
may need to think about another line of work. If Shell or Goil can make
use of those systems, why hire people to fuel your car for you?
Those were the themes that were touched on at the Quantum Leap Career Fair 2017 at the British Council. The event was put together by Stars From All Nations(SFAN), a high impact social enterprise that bridges the gap between education and work.
The event was created to talk about the future of jobs in Africa. Are
the robots coming for our jobs? Is AI ready to take away service jobs
from the next generation?
Lucy Quist: The Hero We Need In Our Society
The keynote speaker for the event was Lucy Quist. Lucy is currently the CEO of Airtel. She’s a strong advocate for STEM and girls education.
She’s a very eloquent speaker. Her address focused on what was
happening back in the day with computers and automation to the present
day where things she was doing in the past could easily be replicated
with the use of an app on your smartphone.
She was very passionate about what she talked about and it showed
during the Question and Answer section where she answered questions from
the audience about education, changing mindsets and slowness and
inefficiency of government services.
It’s great to be in the presence of people like Lucy Quist because she’s the type of person that gets it.
She really believes that people themselves need to get better and
improve and not look at government to always save them. Her views don’t
just focus on Ghana but on the African continent as well.
Collaboration, Robots and Hidden Figures: Summary From The Panel
After Lucy Quist’s marvelous keynote speech and Q&A, a group of
panelists was up next to talk about the future and changing nature of
work in Ghana and Africa.
The moderator for the panel was my internet crush Jemila Abdulai, the founder, and editor of Circumspecte.
The panelists included Yasmin Kumi (Founder of Africa Foresight Group), Josiah Kwesi Eyison (Co-Founder of iSpace), Amma Baffoe (Head of Recruiting at MEST), Genevieve Puni (HR Practitioner from RecTrain Services Limited) and Paul Payne(Manager of British Council Skills Hub).
A lot of issues were touched upon including being business minded and
entrepreneurial, adapting to the future of the coming of AI and robots
which seems inevitable and thinking outside the box and upgrading your
skillset through the use of the internet and networking.
It was mostly agreed that even though the robocoplyse is coming, it
will be a slow build before it has adverse effects in Ghana. But
generally, people will need to adapt and still stand out if and when AI
or bots take over. An example from the panelists about 'adapting' was a
reference to the movie "Hidden Figures", where the
three main female characters taught themselves programming because they
foresaw their replacements being IBM computers.
Another interesting topic which was started by Josiah Kwesi Eyison
(iSpace) was the idea of collaboration. It seemed that Josiah felt like
the British Council were seemingly competitors instead of collaborators
in the tech space when it came to training and skills specialization.
Paul Payne (British Council Skills Hub) made a
rebuttal and said that it was not the intention of the British Council
to compete with the likes of iSpace and noted examples
of other hubs that the British Council had collaborated in the past. The
matter was seemingly resolved and it looks like iSpace and British
Council will be collaborating in the future with some upcoming events.
Looks like everybody wins.
During the wrap-up and final thoughts from the panel, Amma Baffoe gave
a great message to the audience (which was full of young university
students) about what she would have done differently at school with the
things she knew now.
She said she would have gotten an internship or a part-time job while
at school to improve her skills. She would have also taken advantage of
more events (including the Career Fair) to network with people in the
industry. I think the message hit home with lots of people in the
audience nodding in agreement with what she was saying.
The Machines are coming for some of our jobs whether we like it or
not. From the event, it looks like a way to combat this is to adapt and
get with the times. The internet has brought about different ways to
learn and upgrade your skills. You can find dozens of videos on the
internet about to how to code, how to build and just about do anything.
A cross-section of quatum leap career fair 2017 participants
British Council and iSpace are helping with young kids to do more by giving them entrepreneurial skills. Genevieve Puni (RecTrain)
also touched on having soft skills. Even though the robots can do a lot
of things, there are still going to be a need for people to do
analytics on documentation and written reports and also to have
Truth be told, I’m a fan of automation. It makes things more
efficient and better. But I am aware of the effects it has especially
when it replaces the jobs of humans. But like the panelist, I do believe
in upgrading yourself with more skills to avert the coming of the
It’s easier now for me to learn how to code, how to write better, how
to produce videos and even how to set up this website and create
content which you are reading now.
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