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  • Michał Słojewski, Krzysztof Kalaman

Automation is unavoidable

What does the IT world look like today and is it for everyone? Why active women are given special attention in light of dynamic changes in the labor market driven by the influence of the implementation of new technologies? Is automation in aviation a threat to humans, and how and where to look for new career opportunities in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

We discussed all of these topics and many others related to innovations with Joanna Pruszyńska-Witkowska, co-founder of "Future Collars", a school for programming and digital competencies.


What are the main goals and mission of Future Collars?

Our mission is to build a sense of security in the context of one's future career. Technology is playing an increasingly significant role and is radically reshaping the job market. Our goal is to enable quick adaptation to these changes by acquiring professional qualifications that will ensure stability and security.

We offer training services to both individuals and businesses. We are committed to helping our clients easily prepare for the transformations happening in the job market. We strive to provide them with the opportunity to acquire the competencies necessary in the new conditions created by the development of artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. Through re-education, emplouees have the chance to gain qualifications that enable them to maintain their current employment. Employers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to acquire new talent or retrain existing employees for new roles.


We aim to break the stereotypical thinking that one should stick to their learned profession throughout their life. Currently, in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this approach needs a complete overhaul. We are pioneers in responding openly to these needs and emphasizing the role of people.


Is it true that what makes you unique is the fact that you don't focus on developing former IT specialist but rather create IT specialists from very beginning?

Exactly. We focus on individuals who have had no prior experience in the IT industry. We show them that they can venture into this field. We conduct aptitude tests to demonstrate to our clients that their diverse talents and experiences, both professional and personal, already give them a set of valuable skills that can be applied. We offer 14 different career paths because we believe that everyone can find their place in IT. There is an enormous range of roles within this field where one can work.


Who are the target participants in the labor market for Future Collars?

We have two target groups. The first group consists of individuals who want to retrain themselves. These are often people who completed their education over 30 years ago and are experiencing professional burnout or those who have heard about the opportunities in the IT industry and want to try something different.


The second group includes companies that want to provide benefits to their employees by offering them the opportunity for individual development and career change through retraining. An example of this is Amazon Poland, which has introduced the "Amazon Career Choice" program in collaboration with us. Our courses help their employees completely switch careers and find new roles either within the organization or outside.


We also work with companies that make the decision to retrain their employees for new roles due to the difficulty of sourcing roles such as data analysts or testers from the job market. They give employees performing jobs that are likely to be replaced by AI solutions in the near future, the chance to retrain so they can either remain within the company in a different role or enter the job market with a new profession.


There are also companies that choose to cooperate with us as a responsible approach to employees facing layoffs. They offer retraining programs to facilitate their transition to the job market.


IT permeates virtually every aspect of our lives today, yet it remains a significant unknown for people outside the industry. However, you claim that IT is for everyone.

Yes, absolutely.

Let's take, for example, roles like Scrum Master, Product Owner, or Project Manager. These are individuals who manage project teams, resolve conflicts, and focus on working with people. Their work has nothing to do with "coding" or "programming." Another example is UX Design, which is also part of IT. People working in this field plan and design the user experience of a product. This requires psychological knowledge, empathy, and an understanding of user behavior research methods. These are valuable skills highly regarded in the job market because they allow for tailoring products to the needs of target audiences.

There are also IT roles that require skills in data analysis, aggregation, or management. Individuals with accounting backgrounds, for example, can excel in this area.


IT is not just about rooms full of cables, servers, computers, and people coding systems. IT offers a vast space for many individuals with diverse skills and qualifications, not strictly programming skills. Nowadays, more and more IT tasks are based on low-code or even no-code solutions. There is a shift in the perception of the IT business, so the ability to understand that business, the customer's needs and the organization's ecosystem is becoming increasingly critical.


Is innovation just a trendy term that can be placed in marketing materials, or is it a real requirement for today's businesses, including the aviation industry, that they must meet to remain competitive in the market?

I believe there are two elements to consider here. Firstly, it's essential to look at the mission of your company and think about how you can enhance it through the implementation of innovation. The second element is the development of your products, which must become increasingly innovative.

In our case, it's about training methods to ensure that participants acquire knowledge effectively, maintain constant attention during classes, and stay highly motivated. We are innovative! We incorporate artificial intelligence into the aptitude test algorithm to better understand customer needs and tailor our training offerings accordingly.


We must continually seek opportunities to gain a competitive edge, improve our product. We are simply bound to constantly search for new and better solutions. Innovation is absolutely crucial in any organization.

You've emphasized that your mission is to support individuals who are being replaced by "machines." From this perspective, could one conclude that automation is an enemy of humanity?

It is necessary to accept the new reality and not treat it as a bad thing. Automation is inevitable, so it is important not to waste energy on countering these changes. It is known that some of the current professions will disappear, but every technological advance creates new ones. For instance, in the field of IT and artificial intelligence, new areas like AI ethics are emerging. Instead of resisting these changes, the focus should be on finding opportunities in the new situation. This is precisely what we are doing, helping people transition to new careers as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible.


Another aspect often mentioned is that it's not the robot replacing the human but the robot freeing the human from mechanical tasks. These are repetitive, routine, and less engaging tasks, such as data entry into Excel spreadsheets. This will create conditions for better utilization of humans in more interesting, creative roles in professions that are emerging today.

I don't think automation is a bad thing. It is simply a new stage. I'm very happy that it's coming, because it will open up new career opportunities.


The advancement of technology in aviation is opening the door to increasing automation of human work. There is growing discussion about permitting passenger flights to be operated by aircraft piloted by only one pilot. The second pilot is intended to be replaced by onboard and ground-based automated systems powered by AI, supporting the person at the controls. Would you board a passenger aircraft with only one pilot?

Of course I would get on such a plane. Because I believe in technology and am optimistic about it. I believe that the AI used in such an aircraft will be comprehensively researched, will have many planned paths to follow, and will know how to behave in a growing number of scenarios. Importantly, it will also not be influenced by people not relying on substance and procedures.


On the other hand, I think there will be significant consumer resistance to using such aircraft. It will take a lot of time to convince people that an aircraft with one pilot is as safe as one with two pilots.



What was the inspiration behind organizing the Women in IT Career Day event?

From the beginning of our business, we knew that women would be crucial to us. This is due to the fact that in 85% of companies the IT field is dominated by men. On the one hand, women lose because they don't work in such a professionally attractive sector; on the other hand, they are most at risk because heavily feminized professions are the most vulnerable to changes resulting from the introduction of automation, robotization, the application of artificial intelligence. Customer service, front offices, finance or accounting - all are undergoing huge changes related to digitization. In the next few years, as a result of the automation of these areas, there will be a great number of people who will actually have to give up their current profession.


So we decided to open the door for women to the IT world, which for many, many years was a male domain. We initiated the Women Update campaign as our first step, aiming to demystify the IT industry and simultaneously inform women about the changes taking place in the labor market. We encourage them to consider themselves as professionals in the technology sector.


A crucial part of this campaign is the annual Women in IT Career Day. During the event, women who are already thinking about a career path in the IT field can listen to other women who are already working in this sector and are willing to share their experiences. They talk about various jobs in this industry and convince, based on their own experiences, that getting a job in this area does not require some special technological knowledge. Men are also invited to the event, where they talk about how important a role women play in teams and encourage them to take up jobs in their companies.


Women in IT Career Day is a great platform to provide women with knowledge about many professions in IT that can be a new career and life perspective for them. We know, from previous editions, that the meetings and discussions at these events have inspired many female participants.


This is already the fifth edition of this event. What are the most important lessons you have learned from the previous editions?

The previous editions of Women in IT Career Day have provided us with valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing women in the IT industry.

Firstly, we recognized the importance of providing women from smaller towns and regions with access to expert knowledge in the IT field. In response to this, we organized online workshops that allow participation from anywhere. This facilitates the involvement of individuals who otherwise wouldn't have had such an opportunity.


We also understood the significance of mentoring. We offer the chance to establish close connections with industry experts, which can be pricelessfor young professionals starting their careers in IT. Such guidance can significantly accelerate their development and boost their self-confidence.


Another lesson is the importance of women finding a balance between their professional and personal lives. That's why our event program includes panels on career development as well as those that help participants better organize their lives so they can fulfill themselves beyond work.


We also emphasize the importance of approaching one's career in a project-oriented way, being able to plan and set realistic goals. We provide participants with tools that enable them to successfully pursue their career paths.


Why have you decided to make this year's edition international? What are the main differences, among European countries in their perceptions of women in the IT industry?

This was a natural step considering the growing importance and recognition that the project has already achieved. The fact that Women in IT Career Day was selected as a finalist in the prestigious European Digital Skills Awards 2023 in the Women in ICT Careers category confirms that the actions we are taking have a real impact on the development of the IT industry.


We collaborate with the European Women's Association and DIGITALEUROPE, which allows us to enrich the program with the participation of outstanding leaders in the European IT industry. This extraordinary cooperation also contributes to expanding the reach of our communication and message, reaching an even larger number of women.


Thanks to this international collaboration, we will have the opportunity to compare methods of promoting women in the IT industry in different European countries. These differences can be significant, considering the cultural diversity and the varying levels of IT sector development in each country.


Through the international edition, figures like Vanessa Gentile, founder of the non-profit organization Bring Women Back to Work from Switzerland, will be joining us. Her experience in assisting women in returning to the job market after a career break will be invaluable in the context of our discussions on building IT career paths.


Participants of the event will also have the chance to listen to an inspiring power speech by Raisa Ganzi, an international speaker, moderator, women's leadership trainer, and creator of the "Women's Leadership in Tech" program. Raisa will share her experiences and insights into the importance of diversity in companies. Her perspective will be an invaluable addition to the discussions and is sure to provide event participants with many inspirations and practical tools for their professional lives.


Introducing an international perspective will also enable participants from different countries to exchange experiences and establish valuable contacts, which may contribute to the further career development of many women.


How does Women in IT Career Day fit into the idea of continuous learning? Why is it so important in this time?

Women in IT Career Day aligns with the concept of "life-long learning" by promoting continuous personal and professional development in a dynamically changing, technology-dominated world.


The event offers participants 8 intense hours filled with various forms of education, from lectures to debates, workshops, and meetings with potential employers. All of these are tailored to different stages of one's career in the IT industry.


The two key tracks of the event, RESTART and UP:GREAT, are aimed at women who are just starting their journey in IT and those who want to advance their careers and reach new heights, respectively. By developing not only technical but also social and cognitive skills, participants have the opportunity to better understand the dynamic business world in which digital technologies and artificial intelligence constantly change the rules of the game.


What can participants expect during this year's Women in IT Day? What are the main highlights of the program?

Participants can expect several key elements during this year's Women in IT Day. One of the main components is mentoring sessions conducted by experienced specialists from various IT fields. These 20-minute sessions will provide an opportunity to delve into the specific roles in the industry, such as Java/Python programmers or Scrum Masters, and ask questions about daily responsibilities or essential competencies in a given profession.


Another valuable part of the event is the Expo Zone, a virtual space where partner companies can introduce themselves to potential job candidates. Participants will have the opportunity to establish direct relationships with employers who value diversity and are open to hiring women, creating a welcoming environment for them.


In addition, debates will be conducted via open live streaming, allowing a wide audience to participate. More information about the full event program will be available on the newly refreshed website at www.womeninitday.com soon.


What is the main message you would like to convey to participants of the Women in IT Career Day? What advice do you give to women who want to advance in the IT industry?

The main message we would like to convey to participants of Women in IT Career Day is encouragement to actively engage and take part in the ongoing industrial revolution, as one of our speakers, Raisa Ganzi, puts it. Today's world is dynamically moving towards full digitization, opening up innumerable opportunities, and new technologies are becoming an engine for the development of innovative solutions.


We want to emphasize that women have tremendous potential to consciously and actively shape the future of the IT industry. It's the diversity of perspectives and experiences that can drive the most important innovations that will define the coming years. It's important for women to see themselves as valuable players in this sector.

Therefore, our advice to women aspiring to develop their careers in the IT industry is to invest in education and build networks that will provide support in pursuing their professional aspirations. We encourage them to take advantage of opportunities like Women in IT Career Day.



 

Future Collars is organizing the Women in IT Career Day event, which this year will be held on November 15. The event is expected to attract up to 8,000 participants from all over Europe. The speakers will be representatives of not only the IT industry. Experienced managers, recruiters and psychologists will share their knowledge. In addition to the obvious topics related to the IT industry, a lot of attention will be paid to the areas of career development, mental health care, or mentoring.


"Women in IT Career Day" will be held under the media patronage of PolskaSky.pl.

Registration will open soon.

Everyone is welcome to attend this unique event!

On November 15! You can't miss it!




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