It’s no secret that the world is changing. New technologies geared towards automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have the ability to drastically shift industries, leaving people frantically yelling “robots will take my job!!”
I’m here to say those people are not all wrong, but I’m also here to discuss why this is happening, and why it’s critical we feel equipped and empowered in these changing times.
We are on the cusp of an entirely different world — as things like automation, and quantum commuting take over the global economy, many jobs simply won’t be necessary anymore. It’s difficult to know for sure but predictions suggest that in the next ten years somewhere between 800 million and 2 billion jobs will be disrupted. This is going to have obvious repercussions on society, so how we deal with a job crisis is going to be vital to the future.
First, let’s take a quick look into some of the jobs that are likely to disappear first.
- Drivers (delivery and transportation): This one may feel a little far away, but once autonomous vehicles become the norm, having a physical driver won’t be the cheap or efficient choice. This goes for delivery drivers too, why bother having someone deliver your pizza when a drone can do it?
- Cashiers: I already exclusively use self checkout kiosks. You get to scan and pack your own groceries and leave without needing to talk to someone. This may not be everyone’s preferred method but it definitely seems like that path we are heading down.
- Bankers: This one is also not too hard to imagine either. Just like online shopping who doesn’t bank online? And now with more AI providing tailored banking services, human bankers will probably see in sharp decline in clients.
Some other jobs at risk include: travel agents, fast food workers, movie theater workers, telemarketers, bookkeepers… the list goes on. Essentially any job that is already part of a dying industry, or is able to be replaced by automation is going to be on this list. This is because automation means faster, more efficient, more reliable and often times cheaper, outputs and services.
But don’t worry, this isn’t ALLL doom and gloom. Rapid technological progress is already creating huge opportunities for growth. Smart cities, virtual reality, and green technology are all working to tackle complex problems, and provide innovative solutions for everything from climate change, to poverty. This has the potential to provide more jobs, in new or transformed industries. Competition for these jobs is expected to be high however, and so understanding these workforce trends and patterns is crucial to ensure we all are still able to work in secure, well paid and well served jobs. This will mean reshaping, and rethinking much of our existing structures of society, and coming up with adjusted policies and practices in key areas like:
- Income: A reduction in employment will most likely put a massive pressure on wages, which could mean an increase in economic vulnerability and disparities. Rethinking income through solutions like universal basic income, and more adaptable social safety nets, are necessary in order to best support our workers.
- Work: How we are expected to work will also need to adapt to the changing workplace. Whether this means learning to work closely with a machine, or becoming more collaborative with in your human teams following looser hierarchical structures in more agile working environments.
- Human talent: Increasing efforts to invest in our human talent is necessary for ensuring job creation, and incentivising the creative and dynamic workplaces of the future. This could mean improvements in both education and skills/ training.
- Education: Redesigning education is especially imperative for students to keep up with skills and new areas of work focused around STEM and interdisciplinary research and design. Creativity in systems and critical thinking will also be important to evolve in our machine driven world.
- Skills/ Training: The reality is that many workers may be forced to switch occupations in order to match the increasing demand for other jobs. This means it’s essential that we stay flexible and adaptable, as this will encourage more transferable skills that can be used in different ways for different purposes.
It will also be very important that we maintain existing collaboration and communication so that we can continue to work amongst dynamic and diverse teams. Emerging technology shouldn’t mean less humanity, it should actually mean more. If we have machines working more efficiently for us, I would hope that it gives us the opportunity to appreciate, and value each other more, leaving a strong desire to be closer and more connected.