Will machines take away human jobs?

Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution

By Huzraifah Atikah

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) is now here and Malaysians are marching forward to accept the advancement of technology in this fast-paced world.

The IR 4.0 is expected to change how human lives, work and communicate. 

Did you know that the kids who are enrolling in primary school today will probably end up working in jobs that haven’t even been created yet?

That is the prediction of The World Economic Forum, although no one knows what will happen in the future. Perhaps, the prediction might be true. 

Even in today’s reality, the changes in business models and employment trends has created many new ways to earn income.  

With that, the accountancy field as well is expected to undergo a paradigm shift due to the impact of the IR 4.0, as completion of core tasks will be enabled by technology.

Recently, a forum called ‘Revolutionising the Role of Professional Accountants’ was held at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus in Subang Jaya.

Taylor’s announced that it has launched the full modules available in the Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programmes last month.

The college has begun offering the course as it had also welcomed its first batch of students.

Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan said they aimed to provide their students with an education that would make them stand out when they graduate.

“We constantly seek to improve on our offerings – be it education or internship opportunities – in order to provide our students a global outlook in their education journey.

“With the growing influence of the IR 4.0 on our society, we as educators need to recognise the fact that we are influencing the learning journey of tomorrow’s professionals.

“It is necessary that we provide our students with an education that will serve them well tomorrow,” added Tan.

By selecting to do their ACCA and CAT programmes at Taylor’s, students will be able to gain mentorship and tutelage from industry experts and “Star” lecturers (ACCA lecturers who hold PhD qualifications and have been trained in various institutions) in addition to developing their transdisciplinary skills.

Xtrategize founder and chief executive officer Tony Ong moderated a discussion at the forum.

The invited panelists were the 6Biz founder and transformational leader Datuk Vimmy Yap, Human Resources Minister M.Kulasegaran, Baker Tilly Malaysia Audit and Assurance co-leader Datuk Lock Peng Kuan, and BP Malaysia country head Ainol Roznain Yaakob.

Kulasegaran in his speech when officiating at the inaugural of the forum on Professional Qualification, said:

“While Industry 4.0 is still a relatively new concept to us, the implications of this era on life as we know it are immense.

“This new era is projected to have an impact that will blend together the physical, digital and biological aspects of life; in turn, requiring a reassessment of how we work, learn and live.”

He said with the rise in electronics, IT and automated production, professionals such as accountant were able to increase productivity and efficiency in comparison to the predecessors in the 18th to 20th centuries. 

Kulasegaran also said by diversifying training opportunities to include things like computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) would be a good investment. 

“It would strengthen their respective communities and allow them to acquire tools to be better contributors in their individual roles.

“This new era is projected to have an impact that will blend together the physical, digital and biological aspects of life; in turn, requiring a reassessment of how we work, learn and live.

“The process of acquiring information or remaining current to the field will require you to transform how you look at learning and development within the workplace,” he added. 

Further into the discussion, Ainol said companies should invest and upgrade in IT infrastructure to stay in the business and remain competitive.

Lock said automation would enable companies to carry out their work efficiently and effectively.

One question was raised during the discussion was will machines take away human jobs?

According to Yap, humans should not compete with machines. She said: 

“We should not think that machines will take away our jobs, but people should upskill to do more, which adds value (to their job).”

Yap said accountants played an important role as they were equipped with the skills to manage risk and finances of SME companies as well as trusted to assist in its decision-making.

She said accountants should work together for technology adoption to be more confident when dealing with the challenges of IR 4.0.

Citing Gartner’s hype cycle for emerging technologies, Yap said that artificial intelligence would automate 1.8 million people out of work by 2030.

However, she added, Gartner predicted that AI would create 2.3 million jobs by 2030, driving a net gain of 500,000 new jobs.