Survival of The Re-Skilled!
1.4 million jobs to be disrupted by 2026 due to technology.
Whenever a new technology emerges, it becomes easy to see what jobs it might replace. The challenge may be to envision what kind of new jobs may be born in the future. A decade ago, artists used to work with copywriters in order to prepare advertisements, but today with the help of computer-aided graphics the same is done by graphic designers, which took the scope of print media and creativity to new heights. The idea is that when we pass off some of our workload to machines, it broadens the scope of what was possible. We come up with new ideas, new innovations, and new kinds of work. In fact, many industries that are around today, like electronics, health, medicine, finance, and insurance, barely existed or did not exist at all a century ago. By that notion, it is never wrong to think of upgrading one’s skills with time.
A report titled “Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All” was released on Monday, 22 January 2018 at the World Economic Forum’s 48th annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The conference was attended by more than 3,000 global leaders and industry experts. The report signifies a strong emphasis on job disruption and reskilling, it analyzed more than thousand job types that are in the crossfire of technology and pave the way to a major job disruption. According to the report, 1.4 million US jobs will be disrupted by the year 2026, due to technology and other factors, out of which 57% jobs will be women-oriented. However, the research also suggests that 95% of workers conjugated to the risk, would find quality jobs with higher pay if they have enough reskilling.
It is perceived that only 2% of workers would have a better opportunity to transition to new jobs whereas 16% would have no opportunities at all. However, at-risk workers who retrain for an average of two years could earn an annual salary increase of $15,000.The change is real and anxiety justified, however, new technologies often open up new frontiers of jobs that did not exist before. Imagine trying to explain what an ‘app developer’ does for someone in the 1960s. Focusing on machines that will replace jobs do not speak to how they might actually strengthen them. For example, when ATMs started rolling out in the ’70s, they threatened to make human bank tellers extinct, however, banks quickly found that ATMs made it cheaper to open new branches, and the result was more branches and more tellers than ever. Since the arrival of ATMs, the number of bank tellers has doubled. Why? Well, once bank tellers were freed up from dispensing cash, they started forging relationships with customers, solving problems, and introducing them to new products like loans and investments. The net effect was that bank tellers became more valuable to banking.
What about the future?
Automation is accelerating and spreading to more industries faster than we’ve ever seen before. Machines are increasingly replicating skills that we once thought were unique to humans. AI algorithms are trading in the stock market, recommending products to us, and guiding airplanes through the sky. Robots are being developed that someday might be cooking your meals, running warehouses, or performing surgery, all by themselves. So, is this time different? Luminaries like Elon Musk seem to think so. He has predicted that soon, robots will be able to do everything better than us. And Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence will replace humans completely. Lots of people seem to think it’s only a matter of time before these ever-smarter machines make most of today’s workers obsolete. So, should we be worried? Well, yes, it is, just like it was different after the printing press was invented or the assembly line or tractors or computers or any other invention was made that changed the world.
All of these new technologies transformed the way we work and adjusting to them wasn’t simple, inexpensive, or immediate. But if the past is any indication, this radical leap forward in technology is at least as likely to create jobs as it is to destroy them, even if these new jobs might sound as strange to us, as an app developer does to someone who’s never seen a cell phone before.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum stated that the only limiting factor considered in the world of ‘opportunities for individuals’, is that the disposition of leaders in creating investments in the process of re-skilling people, that has a direct impact on bridging worker onto new jobs. The importance of this investment will be massive for businesses, as well as, for workers who may find a new purpose in their lives. People with transferable skills like collaboration and critical thinking abilities will have the most beneficial transition in this period. As President John F. Kennedy once quoted, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”