Fact one: Technology is replacing human brains and brawn.
Fact two: There will be less 8am to 5pm jobs in future. How then does a student in the university prepare to remain relevant in the economy?
“For starters, equip yourself with basic computer skills. Know how to operate a computer, how create and write on a word document, and how to use the internet,” Sheila Birgen, Entrepreneurship Director at I-Hub in Nairobi, says.
Short term jobs (gigs), she says, will be advertised and applied for online. “If you can’t send an email, or sit through an interview on Skype or another online platform, you will find it hard to compete.”
Dorothy Ooko, Google’s Communications and Public Affairs Manager for East and Francophone Africa, says three major dimensions of work will change: the work itself, who does the work and where the work will be done.
“In the ‘gig’ economy professionals will sign up as freelancers and then move on to the next gig. Thanks to mobile technology and ubiquitous internet, working remotely will be the trend,” Dorothy says.
Atieno Van Der Graaph, a co-founder of YASA says that employers today and in future will look for skills “and not degrees”.
She says: “We train jobless graduates to think of jobs as: ‘what can I do now with the skills and knowledge I have?’”
The future, Sheila predicts, is also bright for those who will possess creativity intelligence and the ability to leverage artificial intelligence. “Sports will still present great opportunities. Acting, and other forms of TV entertainment, will still be relevant. E-sports and online games will be big,” she says.
On the other hand, jobs like driving (with driverless cars on the way) will cease to exist. Secretarial jobs are fizzling out fast as managers can plan their time on a tab with the help of an app.
Engineers – to operate, repair and improve on robots and machines – will be having a field day, Sheila says.
“And medical health professionals like doctors and nurses will still be needed as it is a field that requires the human mind to make certain interpretations,” she says.
Lawyers, Sheila says, will still be around. “But how they render services will completely be different. Clients, for instance, will interact more with lawyers virtually rather than face-to-face,” she says.
That said, Sheila opines that it is time for policy makers to review our education system.
“Education needs to evolve with the changing times,” she says. “All courses – in universities and colleges – need to be reviewed.”
It is a sentiment that Nancy Mathenge, manager in charge of training and development at Postal Corporation of Kenya, shares.
Nancy says: “The world is moving towards tech. When you graduate, you need to ask yourself, ‘can I fit the knowledge I have gained with present and future technology?’”
Both Nancy and Atieno encourage students to focus on self-employment rather than being employed because firms will hire less in this age of automation.