Bots can’t be hairstylists

Robots will not replace workers whose jobs constantly require human judgment

KUCHING: Robots will not take away all jobs from human beings. Despite automation and robotics which reshape jobs and the working world in general, certain professions such as cosmetologists will still be relevant in the future.

Fatimah Abdullah

Welfare, Community Well-Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said robots could never replace cosmetologists, for example.

“We can’t ask robots to do hairstyling because they are programmed to do limited types of tasks. Cosmetologists, on the other hand, have to be flexible (in keeping with particular market demands).

“We don’t think robots will replace hairstylists, makeup artists or skincare professionals anytime soon, and it is not hard to understand why,” she said when speaking at Maison Monica annual graduation ceremony for 54 graduates held at Merdeka Palace Hotel here, yesterday.

Basing her remarks on Global Banking and Financial Review, Fatimah revealed that the skills that one needs to prepare for automation-proof jobs are ability to exercise judgment; communication skills during consultation; content creating skills that require adapting to constant change and to set future trend; being creative such that it cannot be imitated by technology; showing empathy towards fellow humans, displaying/using intricate physical skills; and employing personal touch on customers.

However, she said that data entry clerks and customer relations personnel, for example, have 99 percent possibility of being replaced by automation, followed by legal secretaries and associates of accounting professionals (98 percent), and wood carving machine operators and installers (97 percent).

Jobs like education manager and psychologists have one percent possibility for automation, while expert medical practitioners, hotel professionals, and diet and nutritionists have zero percent possibility.

But that does not mean being irreplaceable people can afford to be complacent at their jobs, she said, adding that their staying power lies with more training and retraining.

Fatimah went on to say that people have to change the perception that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is only for students who do not excel in academic studies.

“TVET is relevant as it involves regular education and hands-on job training, which provide knowledge and skills for employment.

“People are starting to realise its importance and are opting for vocational courses to gain skills in different fields.

“TVET prepares students with specific skills for a specific job, thus making employment easier as they are trained and equipped with the right skills.

“This gives TVET graduates an advantage in the job market compared to fresh college graduate (even university graduates), who may not have the relevant skills for the working world,” she continued.

Among the main skills required by employers in the country are English proficiency, communication, teamwork, solution-making, customer service, computer literacy, creative and effective relations building, organisational skills and multi-tasking.

Fatimah also mentioned the 10 most wanted jobs in the country for the past two years, namely sales and marketing managers; mathematicians; actuary and statistics; graphics and multimedia designers; financial analysts; mechanics and electrical wiring; information and communication technology (ICT) managers; engineers; university professional and higher education lecturers; mechanical engineering technicians and mechanics.

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