The current unemployment rate is nearly 16% due to the fallout from the coronavirus and experts are estimating it will continue to grow, reaching 25%, 30%, and even higher. What will you do if your job doesn’t come back? How can you future-proof your career, so your never in jeopardy again?
I know what you’re thinking.
Why wouldn’t my job come back?
If you don’t typically pay attention to science and technology news, you may not be aware that we are all living in a future where AI (artificial intelligence) is becoming more and more integrated with our everyday lives. You can’t future-proof your career, if your career can be taken by a AI.
AI is the technology you use to open your phone with facial recognition. Social media platforms are almost entirely run by AI. Look at Facebook, for example. Facebook AI monitors your behavior, what type of posts do you look at most, who do you interact with most often, and then uses your own behavior to cultivate your feed. By doing this, Facebook can show you the things you want to see, keeping you on their platform longer. Smart home devices, GPS, most software you use, all of it uses AI technology.
Experts have been saying for years, we will get to a point when robots will start taking our jobs away. Andrew Yang, Democratic presidential hopeful of 2020, even made it part of his platform. One of Yang’s issues was retraining the workforce for jobs of the future, instead of jobs of the past.
With the economic downturn we are currently facing, over the next few years you should expect to see employers replacing their workforce with robots, instead of bringing their costly employees back.
Why would employers replace their workforce with AI?
Simply put, it’s cheaper. That means a lower overhead and higher profits for a company that’s sole purpose of being in business is to make money. Let’s face it, employees cost money. Aside from paying an employee a salary, employers have to pay insurance, taxes, office space and utilities where those employees work, and various other things that all stack on top of their overhead.
Replacing employees with AI can save a company from hundreds of thousands of dollars, to millions of dollars a year in overhead. Ask yourself, how many CEOs or corporations can you think of on the top of your head who wouldn’t want to put an extra million dollars in their executive’s pockets?
What jobs are at risk?
AI automation will affect nearly every industry, blue-collar, white-collar, and all across the board. Manufacturers and businesses that have large warehouses have already started automating their processes, impacting employment in the sinking sectors.
Walmart is now using robots to clean it’s floors. While this directly allows Walmart to further cut their workforce in each store, these types of commercial cleaning robots will have an impact on the cleaning and janitorial industries, who will be able to slim their workforce, as well.
Hospitals and businesses in China and several countries in Europe have begun using a new UV disinfection robot, from a Danish company called UVD Robots. These robots aren’t just being used in hospitals, but also in grocery stores and anywhere that has a high amount of foot traffic. The robots will move along halls and rows, disinfecting everything with UV light.
Fast food restaurants like McDonalds were already testing robots that cooked or took a customer’s order for a while now.
When a robot replaces a human employee, it’s likely that job will never come back. Now is the time to future-proof your career.
How do you future-proof your career?
You learn a new skill or trade that is going to be needed and in high-demand over the next few decades. Those careers are going to be business and management, computer science, and data analysis and statistics.
How can you learn at home, with little money?
Sure, colleges and universities often offer distance learning, but getting a degree at one of these will cost you an arm and a leg. Using a MOOC, (Massive Open Online Courses), like edX or Coursera, will allow you to take the courses you want, from your home, at just a fraction of the cost.
Full disclosure, I am an edX affiliate, but I’ve taken courses at both edX and Coursera and while they have a similar platform, my favorite is edX, (which is why I became an affiliate for them).
Do employers take MOOCs seriously?
The answer is yes, absolutely. Especially if you obtained a MOOC degree in computer science. In a very recent previous life, I worked in the technology industry. When the company I was working for was hiring, they didn’t base their hiring decisions on education, but instead based it on knowledge. When an applicant would come in for a job interview, they were given a test to gauge what they knew about computers. If they did well on the test, they were offered the job.
This wasn’t just something that was happening where I was employed, this is an industry standard. While there may be a few businesses out there that still will require a degree, you will find they really will make up a small percentage in comparison with the companies that just want to know their employees can do a job, and do it well.
How much does a MOOC cost?
Well, that just depends. Individual courses at edX are free. You have the option to purchase a certificate upon completion of the class, which starts at $39. Coursera offers the same type of structure, free classes, then you pay for a certificate. While the last course I took at Coursera was several years ago, I am unsure on their average costs now. Not because I didn’t look, but because it isn’t apparent anywhere on their website, (I’ll get to that in a moment). The last course I took at Coursera cost me $39 for the certificate.
You can also take entire degree or micro-degree programs, which cost more than $39, but the perk on taking them with edX is that edX is fully accredited. That means if you want to take your credits somewhere else later, you can.
Why should you take a course without a certificate?
Taking a free course and opting to forego the certificate is a great option if you are learning a soft skill or just something you are interested in. Not all MOOCs have to be about giving yourself a future-proof career.
Here are a few FREE courses which you don’t need a certificate for to find a job with:
As you can see the possibilities are endless.
The difference between edX and Coursera
Not all MOOCs are created equal. Years ago, when MOOCs started getting really big, I took several courses at Coursera. At the time their platform was user friendly and it was easy to find new courses and the cost of certificates. However, recently, I spent nearly an hour on their site trying to navigate through and find new courses. It was very frustrating. They stack their higher cost degree programs on the top of their search results and hide the free programs down at the bottom.
edX is different, when searching for a new course, they show you what you’re looking for in terms of courses. And if you want to look at their degree options,you can easy filter that on the left.
As I mentioned above, I couldn’t find the new Coursera prices per course. They all say free, but you have to enroll, they give you information on their subscription policy and refund policy, but nowhere do they tell you costs per course or program. That was a huge turn off to me, since most courses I would prefer to get a certificate for. While I know a particular course at edX will cost me $39 for a certificate, I didn’t have anything to compare it to.
While sitting at home on quarantine, or under a shelter-in-place order, now is a great time to future-proof your career, learn a new skill, start on a future proof career path, or re-visit a subject you learned long ago. What do you have to lose?