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On robots and automation replacing our jobs...and our teachers



We face an uncertain future of technology replacing our jobs, but those in the teaching sector seem to have all the answers.

Nearly half of Singaporean youths surveyed think automation will replace their jobs in future. This is according to a poll conducted by Youth.SG in August on 733 polytechnic and university students.

Surprisingly, 75 per cent of respondents headed for the education sector believe automation will take over their job eventually

While that number is the highest among all the industries surveyed, what was even more surprising was that less than one third of them are worried about the future. 

Most of the other jobs that feel threatened by automation belong to industries that have less human interaction, like transportation, construction and engineering.

We spoke to some teachers to find out the possible causes for their optimism. 

1. It won't be a clean sweep 

It seems ludicrous to even imagine robots taking over every single job. After all, only one job has been eliminated in the past 60 years of technological advancement. 

More than half of all respondents do not think automation will replace their job in the future. Even if it does, many believe that there will still be jobs for them in their industry because there remain multiple aspects of their occupation that cannot be replaced. 

Bryan Lee, 28, a JC Economics teacher, said: "While information and facts can be learnt everywhere, certain skills are difficult to pick up without guidance and mentorship."

A majority of respondents believe that they will work alongside their automated counterparts instead of being replaced by them completely. 

2. Millennials are job-hoppers 

Millennials no longer stick to one industry and are reaping the benefits of broadening their horizons early, making them less worried about jobs in one sector being replaced by automation. 

Francis Tay, 32, a private tutor and former special needs officer at MOE, suggests that teachers should have a chance to explore other sectors within the civil service. 

He said: "Secondment into different industries would allow us to have broader worldviews and better prepare our students for future challenges." 

It can be argued that job-hopping allows one to try out a variety of roles and gain new skills along the way. And, if done strategically, it can lead to greater job fulfilment. 

26.5 per cent of respondents have back-up plans if automation were to replace their current jobs.

3. Embracing a life of learning 

When it comes to learning and adapting, teachers should know best. Rather than fearing being completely replaced by automation, learning to embrace new technologies may open up many opportunities and create new jobs

Deddy Setiadi, 27, Tink Tank Co-Founder and Programming Instructor, believes in the power of technology and that robots and automation are merely tools that should be leveraged on. 

He said: "Today, children as young as six years old are starting to pick up programming, making their own games and apps. There are no excuses for teachers, children's role models, to remain stagnant in their mindset." 

No matter which path you're currently on or intending to take, it may be time to follow the lead of those in the education industry in order to survive working and living in the wake of automation.