Friday, November 23, 2018

The Future of Work with the Rise of Robotics and Automation

Our 21st c technology-driven world is loaded with both promises and challenges. The self-driving cars, customer service inquiry algorithms, X-ray reading machines demonstrate innovative and compelling guises of automation. But what has sparked much public concern over such innovations is that employing robotics and automation technology will inevitably replace the people executing that particular job.

Nevertheless, the fear of losing jobs isn’t new syndrome. As automation and artificial intelligence technologies are upgrading, people fret that millions of human workers would no longer have jobs - as they did in the 18th c. with the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

The ever-upgrading technology has constantly unfolded new employment opportunities, but with the emergence of robotics and artificial intelligence, the world of employment may reconstruct beyond imagination.

Technology destroys jobs, but not work. 

New researches that examine the global job markets under different scenarios and investigates how technology will mould the world of employment through 2030 -provide the much-needed insight to decide on embarking on a new promising career.

In the 2017 Report of by the McKinsey Global Institute, lessons from history are inferred, and several scenarios as a peek into the future are developed to analyze the potential labour market disruptions due to automation and the new labour demands that will create jobs by 2030. Predicting how future job growth would all play out is impossible, as it depends on technologies that do not exist today. However, the research does present an insight into the possible workforce transitions and developments.

The 2013 Oxford Martin School’s Reseach estimated that almost half of US occupations would likely be automated; In its 2017 Report, it highlights other relevant trends that also, to an extent, influence the future of work- including globalisation, population ageing, urbanisation, and the rise of the green economy.

To summarize in brief on both the researches: 

  • It’s predicted that it wouldn’t affect everyone equally. Only 5% of the current jobs would be entirely automated -only if today’s cutting-edge technology is widely adopted around the globe. While in 60% jobs, barely one-third of activities will be automated. Even as some operations would be automated, job opportunities in those fields might not dwindle; instead, workers may be assigned with new tasks.

  • Jobs that require emotional intelligence, creativity, reasoning and decision-making abilities in order to manage and socialize with people, apply expertise, and the occupations based under unpredictable conditions like that of gardeners, plumbers, childcare and eldercare providers, nurses will have a much lesser impact, as bots are incapable of levelling up with the human performance for now. Chat-bots can communicate with you, but they cannot negotiate a deal. Machines can assemble objects, but they can’t make a cup of tea in a disorganized kitchen.

  • Many low- or middle-skilled occupations (e.g., manufacturing production, administrative, secretarial and some sales occupations) may turn insignificant in the workforce -due to the technological revolution and globalisation. People, on a large scale, may be displaced and require to learn new skills in order to switch careers. But agriculture, skilled trades and construction occupations show more heterogeneous patterns, suggesting that there may be pockets of opportunity throughout the skills ladder. While non-tradable services, like food preparation, elementary services and hospitality are expected to gain importance. Although such jobs have lower skills requirements, they are linked with differentiated products that consumers increasingly value. 

  • There are reasonable grounds to expect interpersonal and higher order cognitive skills to gain value. Interpersonal skills include teaching, social perceptiveness and coordination, as well as related knowledge, such as psychology and anthropology. Cognitive abilities includes originality, fluency of ideas and active learning.

  • The gross expense on technology may raise by more than 50% by 2030. Jobs related to Information Technology would be high-waged and less in number as compared to ones in healthcare or construction. It is estimated that by 2030, this trend may generate 20 - 50 million jobs globally.

  • Creative, digital, design and engineering occupations present promising outlooks and are greatly complemented by digital technology. Moreover, architectural and green trades may benefit from greater urbanisation and the growing interest in environmental sustainability.

Both pieces of research suggest that advances in AI and robotics would indeed have a drastic effect on everyday working lives. Nonetheless, the reports are optimistic that many occupations have bright or open-ended employment prospects. But it requires individuals, educators, businesses and policymakers to respond appropriately -as investing in upgrading skills ought to be the core of any long-term strategy for adjusting to structural change.

Automation, thus, would not be entirely destructive; instead, new roles will be created, existing jobs will be redefined, and there would be retraining and upskilling opportunities for smooth mid-career switches. Managing this transition, however, will be a challenge. 

This glimpse in the estimated job market with the rise of automation will help you make an informed decision for a better career choice. 

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