The new era of technological change has the potential to both create jobs and displace them.
This is because the introduction of technologies such as automation, blockchain and artificial intelligence can replace dangerous, manual, or monotonous, jobs. In Industry 4.0, automation will replace some jobs, AIs others, and some will be replaced by both. The people in those jobs – largely low-skilled labour jobs – are therefore at threat of unemployment.
Unfortunately, job loss in the era of technological is unavoidable. Industry 4.0 will demand the replacement and reskilling of some jobs. But will this mean disaster?
Where will the jobs go?
Industry 4.0 will take jobs. It will also create more, the majority of which will be centred around technology. Many workers will need reskilling, and those who are purely interested in manual employment may lose out. Nonetheless, willing manual workers can be upskilled to do technical jobs, and therefore not simply face lack of employment. This ultimately means that the labour-intensive, manual jobs will largely be gone in favour of managerial, technical or creative careers.
Technology will redistribute jobs into other sectors, and create new areas of employment.
A new type of workforce
This will create a workforce that is essentially structured around reskilling to expand societal development and sustainable careers.
Industrial revolutions demand a large-scale change. This social change transfers into the workforce.
People in the manual labour force are at the highest risk. Other jobs, such as creative and managerial, are less susceptible to loss of employment. AIs and automated machines will struggle to do creative and thought-intensive jobs.
If we do not anticipate the upcoming shifts in work, society will ultimately lose out, and the rate of unemployment will rise drastically. If we don’t prepare for it, the job loss will come suddenly and unexpectedly, and there will be a demand for reskilling and redistribution of jobs that we are unprepared for.
In the Future of Jobs Report 2018, the World Economic Forum (WEF) projects the future state of work. Almost 50% of the companies surveyed expected to reduce their workforce as a result of automation by 2022. Also by 2022, the report predicts that 58% of task hours will be performed by machines.
By this point, machines will have displaced 75 million jobs. Some estimates suggest that 133 million new roles might emerge to replace the jobs lost. A portion of these will be new careers involved with supervising and controlling machines.
Some people will face job loss as a result of automated machines, but in turn many jobs will also be created as a result of growth in new areas. This will require expansion and development, however. WEF predicts that “no less than” 54% of workers will require reskilling and/or upskilling.
The positive side of change
Here’s the good news: It’s not all bad. Most of us have seen a news segment or article that tells us we’re losing our jobs to technology. On one level, that’s correct. Some people will lose their jobs to technology; however, many others will be reskilled and employed into a different sector. The message that tells us to fear technology is resistant to new industrial change.
This is the fundamental way of industrial revolutions, and the way it has always been. Society as a whole must prepare themselves while we are still in the early stages of digitalisation.
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