Carl Plant explains why IT is not going to destroy your job, but make you more employable
There is little doubt that IT has comprehensively penetrated all areas of the job market - from low skilled jobs to white collar professions. However, in the majority of cases this has been a steady evolution rather than a computer uprising, as it's so tempting to portray it.
The IT evolution has led to many, many job roles evolving in turn. For example, bookkeepers no longer sit at desks inputting numbers into a database; online accounting software does it for them, while they focus on decision making. Instead, of making them less employable, IT has made them more free, allowing them to work more flexibly.
Sophisticated technology has allowed the modern day white collar worker to gain experience in a host of roles they would never have enjoyed before.
Just as the internet has provided the basis for a new world of interconnectivity, advanced IT has created a world in which jobs become interconnected too. Job titles are no longer one-track; employees are expected to have tertiary skills in other relatable areas. In fact, it’s often these secondary skills that make them more employable over their less adaptable peers.
For example, a modern admin assistant's CV will probably contain aspects of marketing, HR and PR.
That's not to say that there are no specialists anymore, but now IT has taken on more job responsibility and employers expect more from employees.
If we were to look at how design has changed over the last decade, you would see that, ten or fifteen years ago, there were two distinct types of designer. The creative graphic designer and the technical web designer did different jobs; the latter was really a coding and programming expert. Designer A would create your logos, branding and advertising. Designer B would write the code to build your website. These two antipodes, or so it seemed, didn't mix; there were no hybrids. It was the classic left brain, right brain dichotomy.
However, flash forward to the current day and modern designers are expected to do it all. This is partly due to the fact IT has reduced the need for coders; there are now programmes out there that can do it for you.
Of course, still having a basic understanding of coding and being able to dip into it every now and then is a must, but the days of writing streams of HTML are long gone.
IT has lowered the barriers to many jobs that used to be considered specialist. It’s thrown open the doors of careers that were previously only for the highly skilled, and freed workers from the boundaries of their job titles.
Over the next 10 years, rather than destroying specialists, IT will push these people to become more skilled, while allowing the rest of us to become more well-rounded. It's not a revolution, it's an evolution - it's not forcing us to study IT, it's allowing us to work in a wider range of roles using applications that need less study.
Far from fearing IT taking our jobs, we should be embracing it and the sooner the better. For schools, universities and employers group work experience with IT technologies can be a great way to give people invaluable skills and perhaps even inspire them to take a route previously deemed unthinkable.
Carl Plant is CEO of technology solutions company bITjAM.