Latvian workforce experts talk robots

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Latvian workforce experts predict that many of today's professions will be lost to robots as a result of technological development, artificial intelligence and a labor shortage, according to a Latvian Radio broadcast on February 6.

Disappearing professions

“Telephone operators who create connections – we don't have those anymore,” said “Eiro Personāls” Director Evita Mackeviča.

The personnel consultancy agency specialist adds that some professions won't disappear, but will transform. Everything from how we shop to how we travel is changing, and the human factor becomes less important for many things. The next professions to disappear will be those where people are conducting predictable, monotonous operations or processes.

“This leaves intellectual thinking, creation, analysis or suggestion processes as a human capacity,” said the expert.

Technological development levels are different in various Latvian regions, as well as across different countries. For employers the initial costs of acquiring new technology can be very expensive, but it pays off in the long run, as robots are cheaper than humans.

Future of work

“Even client services, or so called chatbots have already been set up at several Latvian companies, where artificial intelligence deals with client questions and answers simple questions,” said Workingday Marketing Director Māris Silinieks.

In the future labor market people will have to be ready to gain additional qualifications, learn more new things and understand new professions. “Artificial intelligence can be much more precise than a person, analyzing human DNA and biometric data, finding ideal healthcare programs for people,” said Silinieks.

Mackeviča also highlights the lack of workers as a main reason for employers to search for technological alternatives. Robots also don't have the human factor where they need to be motivated. The smarter our robots get, the more they will be in demand. She predicts that the next market robots will enter is the restaurants and cafes of the service sector. New future professions will include digital detox therapists, cybersecurity specialists and drone logistics experts.

Calling for IT experts

In Latvia around 700 new specialist graduates from information technology (IT) programs, but the workforce needs around 3000 new graduates every year, according to Start(IT) education foundation Board Member Karīna Innus. She said there is great interest in studying IT among Latvian youth, but puts forward attracting foreign students as one solution to the deficit.

Innus is confident that the Latvian IT industry can provide a deireable work environment and competitive wage for both local and foreign workers. Her foundation organizes various IT courses, even for students as young as first grade. Start(IT) is also organizing a discussion about combating the lack of IT graduates in Latvia.

Start(IT) said that the Economics Ministry predicts further workforce declines in the future, creating a more acute employment issue and risks for growth. The deficit of highly qualified specialists could even reach 17,000 by 2025, even though it's one of the fastest developing industries with some of the highest wages in Latvia.

As previously reported, new research published by the Latvian central bank (LB) ponders the likely impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies on the financial sector and wider society.
Written by Deniss Fiļipovs, Latvijas Banka's payment technology expert and Marlene Sabine Ryan, a LB trainee from the Deutsche Bundesbank, the paper says: "AI will play an increasingly important role in banking, which is currently facing major changes driven by the rapid development of technologies, changes in customers’ habits, the desire to receive services in the digital environment rather than in person and by new financial services providers that are more flexible, use new systems and challenge the old banks."

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