Algorithms are Coming for Their Jobs
Seeing the writing on the wall, workers are preparing for the future

by Tracey Lien / © 2018, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


When cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes started automating its quality assurance testing last year, it knew that the move could put more than four dozen employees out of work.

  Rather than simply replace them with tech, though, the Santa Clara, California firm turned to tech to save their jobs.

  The company signed up with Udemy, an online learning platform that teaches courses ranging from data science to sourdough bread-making.

  Malwarebytes identified the skills its quality assurance testers would need to stay relevant in the rapidly changing cybersecurity industry. Then it told its staffers to buckle in—it was time to get upskilled.

  As automation becomes ubiquitous, education startups such as Udemy, Coursera and General Assembly are positioning themselves as the nexus between today’s workforce and tomorrow’s jobs.


A savings in time and money

  Unlike traditional college programs that can take anywhere from two to four years and tens of thousands of dollars to complete, the online schools frame themselves like vocational programs for the Silicon Valley set. They offer training in a specific skill—say, learning a programming language—in months, rather than years. Coursera offers some of its courses for free but also has programs where it charges upward of a few hundred dollars. Udemy’s courses for individuals start at $10.99, while its enterprise-facing arm, Udemy for Business, offers group rates for companies that want to sign up entire teams.


The appeal

  Online learning and micro certification are increasingly appealing to individuals and businesses seeking to future-proof themselves against automation or introduce automation without having to fire and rehire a more highly skilled workforce.

  “It’s completely changed how we think of training,” said Brent Boeckman, global learning and development manager at Malwarebytes.

  With automation predicted to displace as many as 73 million, or a third, of U.S. workers by 2030, futurists and automation experts say that retraining at every stage of a person’s career will probably be the most viable path for those who intend to keep working.



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