05 NOVEMBER 2021
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Currently IT is a thriving industry. As a Software engineer, I enjoy the high demand for developers. IT companies are competing in providing lucrative job benefits and high salaries in order to attract skilled workers. The positive atmosphere in the industry has encouraged many youngsters to seek an academic certification in the field of computer science. Furthermore, the high demand and the constant growth has motivated a great number of people to invest in their career requalification towards the IT sector. One can say that having an IT job can provide a normal life with little insecurities, especially in a region such as the Balkans. But will it always be like this?
Should we fear the tools that we created?
A recent product by one of the companies owned by Microsoft, named GitHub Copilot, made me wonder how prosperous the future of the IT industry is. Copilot is an AI tool created to help software developers with their everyday tasks. It is envisioned to carry out a significant workload of the software development process. Programming is becoming easier with the advent of AI assistants and the development of innovative tools. They help developers make faster decisions about how to build their apps. These AI programs provide solutions which are tailored to the needs of individual developers, but they do not replace the expertise that human developers have. The future of this industry is very promising because it will continue to grow in popularity and become more accessible for newcomers. I don’t want to argue that developers will be replaced by AI, but I am saying, as the tools are progressing we will need fewer developers involved in a project. It is even a bit ironic that eventually developers will be replaced by the tools which were created by them.
Did they take our jobs?
Replacing the workforce with technology has been a repeating process since the start of the industrial revolution. Every technological progress has made someone dispensable. It is also worth mentioning that it has opened prospects for new professions and industries as well. It is very likely that eventually the new AI tools will make our everyday work redundant. Many of us would be replaced in the process of reducing costs and optimizing efficiency. This type of change happens gradually over time and it is very hard and counterproductive to stop it. It might cost jobs and life security but it also brings progress and new possibilities. The right question that we can ask ourselves is, what can we do to be on the right side of the change?
“Future-proof” your career
In my opinion the most important step is to start thinking about the future. As already mentioned, the current status quo is quite favorable for the IT workers. But we need to take into consideration that we work in a relatively new industry mostly consisting of young people. This means that we don’t know for certain how long we can be productive and efficient. Additionally, there are not many developers in retirement, so there is not a good reference for the upcoming phases in our careers. You can say that the future is unknown, although times are good now. For me this is an incentive to invest in some sort of a safety net. This can come in the form of pension funds, life insurance, investment funds etc. Experience has shown that wise investing has paid off. It is important to find the acceptable risks that you can endure and start investing. It is always nice to get a financial boost in later stages of life, no matter what the future holds. This creates a sense of security and stability.
Another approach for securing your future could be taking ownership of your work. There are multiple examples of developers being offered equity in the companies in which they work. Giving a chance in a startup job in an exchange for equity can turn into a fruitful investment. Additionally, a hobby project or business idea can put the developer in an ownership role. Even if your development job becomes redundant, having part of a profitable product is a valid form of income. Moreover, the sense of ownership is a great motivational force in one’s work.
Agility makes you resilient
Our future is constantly changing and we need to be prepared for the changes. The best way to prepare ourselves for our future is by investing in ourselves. It’s not about the money but rather the return on investment. You are investing in your future by bettering yourself and learning new skills that will make you more marketable to employers and preferred over other candidates. We need to be aware of what skills are valuable in the workplace and focus on learning those skills so we can get ahead of the competition. A person’s skill set will not only determine the wages they can earn but also what they may be capable of in the future. You don’t have to stop at one skill or career. You should explore as many options as possible and find out what you are passionate about too.
Finally, I don’t want you to get discouraged in your current career or even for you to rethink starting with computer science, I just want you not to take things for granted. Just to prove a point that AI can replace us, 25% of this article was fully written by an AI tool called rytr.me. It is up to you the reader to find the two paragraphs written by the AI.