Is Technology Really Taking our Jobs?

May 29, 2019

Is Technology Really Taking our Jobs?

Integration, automation, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence will have a major and positive impact on business efficiency, but it might also have an impact on jobs.  So how is this impacting the workforce and what might be the shape of the workforce of the future?  Is it all doom and gloom for low-skilled staff or have they got a more satisfying set of tasks to look forward to?

There is now a whole spectrum of technologies which already replace repetitive tasks with computers reducing the need for the more humdrum jobs where it is traditionally hardest to find and keep staff; data input is being replaced by advanced scanning technology and warehouses are being transformed with AI and robotics.  It is however a fact that computers do a better and more reliable job, day in-day out than people who get bored and are prone to make mistakes.  This new age of commerce fuelled by technology is not something of the future.  As we all know, the digital age is here and progressing at a great rate of noughts.

Some economists and futurists say that the digital revolution will do to office work what technology did to workers in manufacturing.  In other words, almost all businesses and jobs will be affected.  Some will become obsolete; others will completely change shape.  But this is nothing new.  Technology and progress have been changing the shape of commerce and society since we invented the wheel.  What is different about today is the rate at which technology is driving change.

Some estimates say technology will replace as much as 30% of all current job roles.  It will most certainly change the shape of many more.  Some also say that it will mainly affect middle-ranking administrative and managerial jobs.  The belief follows the thinking that new-looking, high-end and low-end jobs will take shape but for those in the middle, the option is to re-skill or snooze and lose.  If this were true, the social consequences would be massive.  It might be a forecast that comes true to life in the ensuing years, but there are other views.

The Economist recently did an analysis of the jobs market titled “The Great Jobs Boom”. They say the facts don’t back up either what Silicon Valley has predicted or what the pessimists among us fear.  From an economic study carried out by the OECD on wealthier, developed countries, here are the (surprising?) stats for the UK:

o 43m new jobs added in the last five years

o Entry level pay has increased markedly

o Middle skill jobs have fallen by 10%

o More high-skilled jobs have been created than menial jobs

Perhaps the 4th industrial revolution will be far more positive with regards to jobs than the previous three. Personally, I am optimistic.  I see more capacity and jobs being improved rather than lost among our client base and I am optimistic about what this will do for SMBs.

If you’d like to discuss this among other themes relating to Digital Transformation, join us at our Directors Briefing Sessions at the LSE.  Together with executive and leadership coach, Hilary Oliver, we look at the power of new technologies, how it relates to the way your business operates, and what it means for your staff.

Hope to see you there.

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