Advancing technologies are likely to increase total employment by around 0.5% annually, according to a study by titled Flexibility@Work by Randstad. The study shows that the future of work will show that automation will actually have a positive net effect on jobs.
However, as the authors state in their paper, jobs in the future will not be the same as those of today. Despite an increase in total employment, on average 1 in 7 individual workers will be faced with job loss as a direct result of automation. The changing nature of jobs has been an enduring feature of past waves of technological progress and will ultimately lead to the emergence of three new work types: ‘frontier work’, ‘wealth work’ and ‘last-mile work’. Frontier work concerns jobs in new technological fields, wealth work concerns jobs created thanks to increased productivity and last-mile work concerns jobs that cannot yet be automated. Looking even further ahead, the OECD estimates that 65% of the children currently at nursery school will end up doing a job that does not yet exist, such as ‘vertical urban gardener’ or ‘drone controller’.
New skills and work forms will include everyone
These new jobs will require new and different skills. While the rising demand for hard STEM skills and basic digital skills is well known, there is also ample evidence of a rise in the demand for soft social skills. Crucially, we will need to prepare our educational systems for these 21st-century jobs. In addition, we will need to create seamless public-private partnerships – connecting the world of work with that of education – enabling life-long learning opportunities to support workers in their careers and to help them transition securely to new jobs.
“Inevitably, change and transitions come with insecurities which many people are currently experiencing. Although macro-level research shows that the future of work will create jobs and bring greater prosperity for societies as a whole, individuals who are facing job loss due to automation or robotization are not feeling this today. Young individuals who are struggling to enter the labor market may well be skeptical about what the future has to offer.
Our biggest challenge is to make the transition to a new reality beneficial to all. This means embracing technology, without losing sight of the human factor,” says the study.
Instead, technology should be used to augment the human factor. Technology should be used in an ethical and fair way to provide people with the jobs they love and employers with the workers they need. The human factor will always remain crucial.