A few days ago, Mrs J. Dumur of the Computer Science Department of Imperial College in Curepipe asked me if I would be interested to talk to HSC students. Of course I was and, this morning, I did a presentation about “Interesting Tech Jobs of the Future (for Mauritius)” to them. This was an opportunity for me to talk to young people who would get their HSC results on the same day.
I started by introducing myself, telling them how I became a geek, what kind of higher studies I did and what jobs I had / have now. I also told them that, following my nomination as Chairman of the ICT Advisory Council, I was also responsible to advise the Minister of ICT and Innovation on IT, technology and the future.
I then talked about the two important trends happening now: (1) massive automation and (2), consequently, people having additional leisure time.
Naturally, this means that a lot of jobs in the future will be about automating tasks i.e. software engineering jobs, IT infrastructure jobs, big data analytics, electronics and, of course, digital marketing (because, well, we will always have to sell things…) I referred to a study by LinkedIn on the top skills which could get someone a job in 2016.
I told the students that, in order to be able to work in these fields, one needs to have a very solid Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths background. And, of course, here I am not referring to learning the bare portions needed to pass an exam but rather trying to really understand everything, becoming a real scientist (with a logical and methodical mindset) and also also becoming a doer (and not only a talker as we already have too many of those already in our small island…)
One thing that positively surprised the students was when I mentioned that, as people would have more and more leisure time in the future, they’ll need to have access to all sorts of entertainment such as music, videos, movies, video games, interesting things to do on the Internet, etc. and this is also a very important area where jobs will exist. These jobs will require a very high level of creativity and artistry.
And, of course, those who manage to combine the two facets, namely STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) with Arts to become STEMA would have the greatest choices and/or possibilities in the future… Typically, one who wants to become a video games entrepreneur has to be creative, artistic and be a computer programmer.
We talked about the Smart Mauritius “vision” (I use inverted commas because I am not sure that all politicians have realised that Smart Mauritius is, first and foremost, a vision which can bring us all together in a nation). I mentioned the smart environment, smart living, smart mobility, smart government, smart citizens (they!), smart education, smart businesses, smart infrastructures and smart utilities (electricity, water, etc.) I told them that, realistically, building a Smart Mauritius will take decades and will most probably be done by them instead of people of my generation.
To conclude, I told them (1) to grow their skills (and to maximise their potential as they are as good as anyone from the Silicon Valley or Bengalore) (2) to enbrace STEMA (and to become scientists / creators / artists) and (3) to become entrepreneurs (because, well, we need doers instead of talkers to make things happen — there are too many committees in the island).
At the end, I was asked some questions by the students. One asked me about the interview my wife and I did with Vint Cerf, the inventor of the Internet, when he came to Mauritius. Another student asked me about Linux and he was amazed when I told him that, since 2013, there are more computers in the world running Linux than Windows. Finally, a student asked me about the status of my grand project. I told him that, as an entrepreneur, I had a few “grand projects” but nothing beats inspiring young people to greatness.
I finished with “Let’s create a smarter Mauritius together !” and made an appointment with them in ten years to discuss our respective (and common) achievements!