Technical, social and higher cognitive skills needed to complement AI

Future talents need to acquire such skills to secure jobs and be competent, says Sumitra


THREE critical skill groups — technical, social and higher cognitive — are essential to complement artificial intelligence (AI) which is expected to play an integral role in various fields in the near future.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) talent and digital entrepreneurship VP Sumitra Nair (picture) said job opportunities for the groups would therefore be abound.

Citing the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018, she said there would be 133 million emerging roles, which will spell a brighter future with more opportunities within the fields.

“In order for Malaysia to harness this, we need to make sure that our people are ready because the jobs of the future are going to need these kinds of skills.

“The skills that the jobs will require are programming, critical thinking, data analytics, as well as knowledge of AI and to work alongside AI,” she said at a media briefing on the upcoming #mydigitalmaker campaign in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The technical skills comprise basic and advanced digital expertise to work alongside AI, while the social and emotional skills include interpersonal communication, adaptability and empathy.

Meanwhile, higher cognitive skills require creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving.

“However, social and emotional, and higher cognitive skills are difficult for robots to attain. For instance, nursing jobs require empathy, but that is something that robots don’t really have which means there are still jobs that are difficult for them to replace,” Sumitra said.

She added that future talents need to acquire such skills to secure jobs and be competent.

“Robots will be able to programme as well, but we will still need to give them the correct instructions and right decisions,” she said.

As such, Sumitra said a lot can be done with the education system to prepare the future talents in taking on all the challenges.

“All countries around the world are racing against time to ensure the readiness of their future talent by using the multi-stakeholder approach (rather) than focusing on the education system solely,” she said.

Part of the #mydigitalmaker movement is a fair that will be held between Sept 14 and Sept 15 in Kuala Lumpur.

The fair is expected to feature key panel speakers including Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik and Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

Sumitra added that MDEC is also engaging various education levels in order to support the tech talent life cycle, including school students, tertiary education students, existing workforce and latent talent.

“For school students, we’ll nurture future tech talent pipeline — and strengthen tech graduate employability for tertiary students.

“We want to ensure sustainable career growth for the existing workforce and also include latent talent,” she said.

Among the projects initiated by MDEC is the Digital Ninja, which involves school students aged between 13 and 17 who are exposed to innovative thinking.

At the end of the programme, the students — or the Digital Ninjas — will receive MDEC’s endorsement and guidance for university application, as well as scholarships.

They will also receive a mini-internship which would expose them to the industry. To date, there are a total of 407 Digital Ninjas groomed.