Dr Leslie Young explains how students in the Master of Business Information Technology learn skills that are shaping the industries of the future.
Disruptive technologies are taking hold of Australian industries, forcing them to evolve in radical ways. With digitisation and automation predicted to take over 44 per cent of Australian jobs as part of what’s known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, many are worried about the speedy pace of technology.
The introduction of robots into the workplace may seem like a futuristic concept, but it has already arrived. Robots are wiping out jobs entail routine tasks, take the robotic bricklayer for example.
Yet blue-collar jobs are not the only ones at risk. Experts predict highly cognitive white-collar workers, such as those in scientific research and financial services, are also at risk.
It’s now more important than ever to master cutting-edge technology and learn how it plays a part in today and tomorrow’s business world.
“Robotics is an emerging trend and even though they’ve been around for many years, they’re just starting to filter out into business,” explained Dr Leslie Young, RMIT business IT and logistics lecturer.
“We are now seeing robotic vacuum cleaners, delivery robots and drones and it’s really important that our students know about this technology.”
Dr Young says automation is now so widespread it’s essential for anyone planning a career in business.
“All this technology that we see nowadays has the power to empower individuals,” he said.
“It used to be the domain of computer scientists and technologically advanced people, but now you can program something so easily with a high level programming tool.
“Yes, students do a lot of governance and strategy and a lot of other courses about management, but it’s really about giving them the skills to explore new technology and understand how they can use it in their careers and their business or workplace.
“This technology lets people very quickly program their workflows and use their time to focus more on their core competencies as individuals and as an organisation.”
Dr Young teaches digital innovation to Master of Business Information Technology students, which covers cryptocurrencies, apps and robotic process automation (RPAs). Students learn how to create and program an RPA, then evaluate its potential.
“To begin with they are very intimidated when I talk about programming robotics or building a robot,” he said.
“But the current tools we have allow people with no technical background to do amazing things. They are often quite surprised about what they can actually do.”
The hands-on nature of the program, particularly the visits to the Virtual Experiences Laboratory, made it a favourite for final year student Samadhi Wilwalaarachchi.
“It was a great experience for me as I was able to witness many latest digital abilities,” she said.
“I come from a programming background, therefore I thought of robotics programming in a same way as traditional programming.
“However it was different and interesting. It was easy to learn too.”
Wilwalaarachchi manages her study while working full-time as a business analyst at Sensis. Previously she worked at Telstra and said both organisations were introducing digitisation processes for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
“Robotic process automation is one of the things I learnt that I think would be beneficial to me in the future at my workplace as they are now moving towards this,” she said.
“Anyone can learn it really. In class, when we looked for help on Google, we realised all these young people - 13-year-olds - were already working on robotics.”
As robotics become more relevant in our daily lives, it’s imperative for jobseekers to stay ahead of the curve.
“These are the skills most people want to get, but so many people don’t have yet,” Wilwalaarachchi said.