Decent jobs in the digital era: Could a robot replace my work?
Fears about the impact of technology on the labor market are nothing new. Long before the International Labor Organization (ILO) was born in 1919, the Luddites were a group of English workers from the early nineteenth century who destroyed textile machines that reduced labor and were replacing their jobs.
The anxiety that machines could eliminate millions of jobs in our globalized workplaces is true, and comes at a time when the world economy is already facing a major employment crisis. The employment gap in the countries of the Group of 20 is approximately 54 million and could increase to more than 60 million by 2018, unless current growth trends improve.
Technology has reduced the work required for mass production and is emptying the labor market even further by automating even routine legal and accounting tasks. Robotics is making great advances in manufacturing: every year 200,000 industrial robots are incorporated and it is expected that a total of 3 million will do so this year.
Digital technology vs human workplace
For both developed and developing nations, it is clear that globalization is gaining speed, adding more supply chains that operate in more complex regulatory environments with blurred geographical borders, and that no country can ignore the digital world without being left behind, outside the world economy.
- How can we maintain the human dimension in a world of work where robots are increasingly in charge?
- How can we adapt the labor market in the best way and create decent jobs?
Essentially and crucially, we must anticipate the technological changes to come and address the mismatch of education and skills in the labor markets.
One third of employers surveyed worldwide complain that they can not get people with the right skills to fill existing vacancies.
We must build solid bridges between the world of work and those that provide training, in such a way that the skills correspond to the needs of the market. This is not just a matter of public policy.
Employers and unions should have greater responsibility for investing in skills when meeting with trainers and legislators. Our talks should be informed by information on the labor market, employment services and performance reviews.
Adequate education and skills for countries at all levels of development increase their capacity to innovate and adopt new technologies. This determines the difference between inclusive growth and growth that leaves out large segments of society. A workforce that has been properly trained and can continue to learn increases investor confidence and, therefore, job growth.
The employee-employer relationship has changed
Changes are inherent in the very nature of the relationship we have with an employer. Increasingly, workers who enter the labor market are offered short-term or temporary contracts, and are often forced to accept informal employment or emigrate for work reasons. This is exacerbating the trends towards income inequalities.
Beyond training employees for the digital age, sustainable economies require protections for workers, both in good times and in bad times. Along with adequate systems of unemployment benefits, social protections, such as medical care and pensions, form the basis of a general security for the worker and for a healthy economy.
And yet, today, only 20% of the world’s population has adequate social security coverage and more than half do not have coverage at all.
It has been proven that social protection can function as a buffer to mitigate the effects of economic crises. The ILO also advocates for minimum levels of social protection as they appear in its Recommendations 202 regarding the national welfare of social protection.
What’re Post-digital values?
The established values of the “pre-digital world”, which are codified in the ILO’s work standards, are still valid in the post-digital age. They become in fact more relevant if the traditional employee-employer relationship is eroded more and more in the future.
Read also: Top 10 Demanding Jobs in the Future!
These evolving complexities of the working world will require complex solutions. That is why last year I launched the ILO initiative “the world of work” to try to provide a fact-based understanding to define the trends of the future and to debate what must be done to establish the post-digital world that we all want.
Our world has changed vastly over the last century and not just because of technology.
By 2050, the world population will exceed 9 billion people. The number of people aged 60 or over will have tripled. Three-quarters of the elderly will be living in what are now developing countries and the majority will be women.
Human brain vs human strength
This new demographic context has profound implications for labor markets, social security systems, employment and economic development.
Despite all the progress we have made since the time of the Luddites, we are back to the simple truth that the machines were and still are built by the human brain and strength.
Now and in the future, the digital economy must be sustainable and must be built on decent employment that offers dignity to humans. This work is productive and offers fair income, safety in the workplace and social protection for men and women and their families.
The 10 best jobs and careers that won’t be replaced by technology
You have probably heard reports that many jobs will be taken over by robots in the future. While automation and artificial intelligence continue to grow by leaps and bounds, there are some professions that are unlikely to be soon replaced by robots.
For anyone concerned about losing their job due to automation, these are the ten careers that technology can not kill.
Even the best technology can not replace good leaders. Executive directors must be able to connect with people, something that artificial intelligence has not yet learned to do. Even when they do, they may never replace the qualities of intuition, creativity, and leadership that a successful company’s leader must have.
2. IT Managers and System Administrators
While the technology will remain more automated and easy to use, you will always need human translators who can act as a link between the company’s technology and its human employees. People who work in IT have a bright future, companies continue to weave more and more technology into their daily operations.
3. Production Directors
Even in the manufacturing industry, where many jobs have lost infamy due to automation, managers and supervisors are still needed to monitor these machines and keep production running smoothly. As long as mankind continues to need physical products, someone must be present to oversee the manufacturing process.
4. Graphic Designers
Computers can not recreate the creativity and imagination used to create an attractive and aesthetically pleasing graphic design work. They can not create logos or advertisements that catch the attention of the customer. Although the field of graphic design experiences strong competition, it is expected that most organizations will need graphic designers in the future.
5. Health care providers
Technology and artificial intelligence are unlikely to put an end to many jobs in the medical profession. These roles require sufficient interaction between humans and will not be assumed by the machines in the foreseeable future, if any. Registered dental hygienists, doctors and registered nurses have very little to fear from the automation of work, as the medical field continues to grow rapidly.
While digital learning platforms are gaining importance and utility, the complex interpersonal interactions used to teach students can not be replaced or replicated by machines. Teachers are currently required and, according to all estimates, will continue to do so in the future.
Writing, especially fiction, requires both emotion and creativity, things that robots can not reproduce. While the area of writing is competitive, it is still a requirement, whether for advertising, novels, non-fiction and scripts, among other written works.
8. Marketing Professionals
Machines can not think critically or invent creative solutions or complex and multifaceted marketing strategies. Marketing plans must be created for the exact situation of each company and if a plan works it is not an exact science. This is why the careers of marketing professionals are safe for now.
9. Human Resources
Human resources professionals, like many other professions on this list, will hardly be replaced by robots soon because human interaction is at the center of their role. They must be able to react to changing workplace situations and resolve complex interpersonal conflicts among employees. They are also necessary to manage employee benefits and the hiring process. This career is expected to see average growth in the near future.
Lawyers will not be replaced by technology. Legal procedures are too nuanced to be performed by a software program. While it is expected that this profession will see an average growth rate over the next few years, lawyers have been around for centuries and will continue to remain an important part of our society.
[Author: Guy Ryder: Director General of the ILO.]
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