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Automation is displacing human labour in all three key employment sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology are disrupting the business world very radically.
Re–engineered automated workplaces
When farmers get replaced by machines, the millions who rely on the land for survival face untold consequences. In the manufacturing and service sectors, re-engineered automated workplaces are eliminating the lower and middle –level jobs. Transnational companies are moving into instant communication, lean-production practices, minimal human employees as they depend more and more on robotic workers. Most of the workforce being made redundant will never be able to enter the hi-tech global economy.
The World Economic Forum estimates that in the next five years or so, “as many as 7.1 million jobs in the world’s richest countries could be lost through redundancy and automation. Those losses would only be partially offset by the creation of 2.1 million new opportunities in sectors such as tech, professional services and media.”
Have to transform the workforce.
If countries wish to keep up with the rapid technological advances they have to transform the workforce – they have to invest in education of the kind that will enable the workforce to deal with increasingly sophisticated technology. About two-thirds of children entering school today will be working at jobs that don’t exist today – therefore they have to be trained for the future.
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, says “Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with future-proof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base.”
The biggest threat to future economic security is automation and computerization. Even occupations such as medicine, law, finance are facing competition from technology.
Align the future workforce with technology
Countries thus need to invest in education that will complement technology and automation. They need to promote and implement educational policies and practices that will align the future workforce with the technology that they have to deal with – in particular at the lower and middle level jobs which are now being made redundant.
Educational institutes have to redesign their curriculum so that they “educate” students in dealing with the altered nature of work in the future. They need to focus on training students in problem-solving, communication, analytical skills and social skills; they need to teach them to be empathetic and flexible, they need to encourage creativity and originality of thought and action. The current educational system prepares students for jobs that will be automated by the time they enter the workforce. That needs to change, and change rapidly if these youngsters are to find employment in the future of work.