by Eric Forsch, Business Retention & Expansion Manager, Idaho Commerce

Early in the mid-morning sessions at the Age of Agility Conference, the audience was shown a video of a Boston Dynamics robot successfully landing a back flip. What stood out wasn’t the mere shock at watching a robot do something many humans cannot do, nor the rapid acceleration of technological change, but that the robot learned this behavior on its own after trial and error and can teach other robots to complete the task was astonishing.

Robots are not going to replace human workers anytime soon. By all accounts, technological advances will create new jobs and allow people to become more productive. Many companies we have talked to are excited about automation, not because they want to replace workers, but because they want to keep the people they have and increase productivity.

Being ready for this future was the focal point of the conference. Starting with elementary schools, we need to empower teachers, communities, and parents to prepare children for the work of tomorrow. STEM jobs, research and technology, coding are vital for this future and it is crucial we allow our education systems to adapt, especially to a future that is changing so quickly.

Additionally, companies must be agile. It took sixty years for the telephone to be present in more than 80% of US households, but it took the cell phone less than fifteen. What this means for companies is they need to be nimble to succeed. Michael Simpson, President of PAIRIN, noted how his former employer Novell was great at developing new technology, but poor at getting customers to buy it, which serves as a lesson for communities, businesses, and workers of today.

The future is unknown, but for Idaho to continue to lead the nation in job and wage growth, we must continue to adapt and develop our workforce to meet future business needs. For more information on the Idaho Workforce Development Council’s work-based learning initiatives, get started at leader.nextsteps.idaho.gov.

 

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