Keep Learning in the Era of Automation

Keep Learning in the Era of Automation

By Milind Paradkar

I work at QuantInsti®, a leading global institute which imparts training in Algorithmic trading. As a quantitative writer and a trader, my world mostly revolves around volatile markets, trending stocks, programming trading strategies, scouting for alphas, and writing on topics that give an insight into the automated trading world.

Naturally, as a part of my daily readings, I am accustomed to words that generally form part of a financial markets glossary. However, in the past few weeks & months, I found myself reading more and more on the surging layoffs, impact of automation, the rise of robots and the threat to our future. The list of such articles on the net seemed endless.

The rapid advancement in technology (artificial intelligence and machine learning) has brought in some form of automation in many industries today. This along with factors like growing youth population (the total youth population of India has increased from 168 million in 1971 to 422 million in 2011), millions of engineering graduates passing out of Indian universities every year (approximately 1.5 million graduates), decline in new job creation rate, stagnant salaries in leading industries like IT services, cost-cutting pressures, rising inflation rate has all lead to a threat of a jobless future. What can be done in such a scenario?

One cannot avoid the change that is taking place, the change is imminent, whether you like it or not! Few questions popped up in my mind. Can I just rely on my current skill sets? Will I lose my job? Do I need to acquire new skills? How do I secure my future in this ever changing world? The question that I kept asking myself was….

What will keep me employed for the next 15-30 years of my professional life?

I am sure, many readers would also have these questions and these cannot be simply ignored or kept aside for some other day. One obvious way for those with jobs is not to remain lax, and recognize the need to keep our-selves updated in our respective domain to stay in demand and employable. This can come via self-learning or professional courses and short-term programs that could help you grow in your profession.

But will this really suffice? What if you acquire a new skill that will get redundant due to automation in few years’ time? This scenario is not surreal and we need to be careful when we go for new skill sets or take up a course. One need to be aware of the automation taking place in various processes in one’s domain and get an understanding of which skill sets will be in demand in the era of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Let’s take an example of trading in markets. Not long ago, trading in financial markets was mostly manual, trading firms and thousands of retail traders were engaged in discretionary trading. The advent of automation saw the ushering of a new era, where automated trading & quantitative trading became the norm of the day. Many trading firms moved to automated trading; it led to new lucrative job opportunities for thousands of financial graduates, engineers, and programmers. Many of them shifted from other domains like Investment banking, IT services, and Scientific Research to join quantitative trading firms.

Those who saw this change coming and adapted to it by learning algorithmic trading made the best out of it. Today, quantitative and automated trading is one of the highly rewarding and stimulating fields to work in. I was working for a global investment bank in their mortgage-backed securities modeling division before I switched to algorithmic trading. I completed the Executive Programme in Algorithmic Trading (EPAT™) offered by QuantInsti® which helped me acquire all the required skill sets and am happy that I made this transition at the right time.

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My concluding message to all the readers is to keep learning, see automation as an opportunity to upgrade yourself and plan your future career by anticipating the changes that are bound to take place in coming years. Do it now!