Welcome to Thomas Insights â€” every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on whatâ€™s happening in industry. Sign up here to get the dayâ€™s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
Futurists are leaning less on the panic button when predicting the future of work after a series of studies revealed higher levels of job creation than previously expected. But an emerging skills gap must be addressed before we can shrug off the concern of mass unemployment caused by automation.Â Â
As recently as five years ago, many commentators were predicting full automation across a whole range of jobs, particularly those in which workers are the stewards of a repetitive process. But a study by OECD found that only 14% of jobs are at high risk of being completely automated, while 32% are likely to be â€śradically reshaped.”
McKinsey tells a similar story, predicting that about 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that are technically automatable, based on current technologies. The authors of Technology, Jobs, and the Future of Work make the case that most occupations are unlikely to be completely automated, noting that â€śpartial automation (where only some activities that make up an occupation are automated) will affect almost all occupations to a greater or lesser degree.â€ť
Deloitteâ€™s examination of what jobs will look like in the digital era is upbeat when it comes to the future of jobs in manufacturing. The report’s authors point to tight manufacturing labor market conditions to support their claim that â€ścontrary to some predictions, technology is likely to create more jobs than it destroysâ€ť.
This statement comes from a French study about the impact of new technologies on employment, which found that the internet wiped out 500,000 jobs in France over 15 years, but created 1.2 million others in the same period â€“ a net gain of 700,000 jobs or 2.4 jobs created for every job lost.Â
The great news is that leading organizations seem to be working hard to keep humans in the loop. Deloitteâ€™s Global Human Capital Trends report explains that companies are â€śrethinking work architecture, retraining people, and rearranging the organization to leverage technology to transform business. The broader aim is not just to eliminate routine tasks and cut costs, but to create value for customers and meaningful work for people.â€ť
Manufacturing is facing a shortfall of over 2 million workers over the next decade because the available workforce is unlikely to have the skills necessary for emerging jobs. The shortfall in digitally-savvy talent is already being felt; OECD reports that the shares of highly-skilled jobs have increased by 25% over the past two decades, but 6 out of 10 adults lack basic ICT (Information Communication Technology) skills or computer experience.
Urgent retraining of low-skilled workers will be required in order to fill the emerging skills gap, along with the development of intuitive systems that can be operated by workers with little to no computer experience.
Image Credit: Zapp2Photo, Shutterstock