The future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces: the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, and the expansion of the workforce to include both contracting and permanent workforce. Automation, digital platforms, and various innovations are changing the nature of work and the workforce. Understanding these shifts will enable the business leaders, lawmakers, and workers to prepare themselves and move forward.
The growth of automation and systems that are facilitated by technology including artificial intelligence and robotics offers the promise of higher productivity, safety, increased efficiencies and output, and convenience. However, these technologies raise complex questions about the impact of automation on jobs, the future of the workforce, wages, skills and the general nature of work.
A number of roles and activities done by a typical worker today has the potential of being automated in the near future. This has changed how people look for work as the traditional methods are changing. For example, the popular job-matching sites like LinkedIn, Monster and others are rapidly changing how people search for work and how companies identify and recruit fresh talent. Contracting is increasingly becoming a better option for many employers and companies. Some independent contractors are choosing to offer their services on digital platforms, going against the conventional ideas about where and how work is done.
Besides the potential benefits in the workforce, the business leaders, policymakers, and workers need to understand the considerable uncertainty presented by these shifts. Globalization has brought about various benefits to the workforce and has enabled millions of people, especially in emerging economies to move into the consuming class. However, it has brought some challenges in other sectors like the manufacturing, especially in advanced economies, with certain jobs moving offshore.
The Real Challenge
The educational systems are lagging behind as far as the future of work is concerned. This has forced many employers to suggest that it is increasingly becoming a challenge to find workers with the right skills. The lack of necessary skills is considered the main reason why there are entry-level jobs vacancies. The new graduates from the universities are not sufficiently prepared for the job market and there are always gaps in the technical skills acquired. On top of that, the current job openings are not exposing the workers to challenging environments that will require them to utilize their skills properly.
Contingent workforce and cross-border migrations have for years now, been the result of workers failing to find better work opportunities in their home countries, while other economies are failing to meet their skills gaps. Although workers’ migrations boost global productivity, the native workers face disparities in the labour market and the unavailability of well-paying jobs that are being taken up by the foreign workers.
As much as technology is replacing some traditional jobs and how work is done today, it is creating new opportunities in industries we cannot imagine.
Since the Industrial Revolution, technological change has continued to reshape the workplace. The speed with which Artificial Intelligence and automation technologies are being developed today and the extent to which they can disrupt the future of work cannot be ignored. As adoption of machines and robotics becomes a reality in the labour market, questions are being raised on their capabilities to match or exceed human capabilities. This means that the adoption of machines will increase. However, it is essential to point out that the technical feasibility to use automated machines or robotics does not translate into the deployment of these machines in the workplace or the automation of jobs.
The Future of Work has a Silver Lining
As much as technology is replacing some traditional jobs and how work is done today, it is creating new opportunities in industries we cannot imagine. They are offering new ways to generate incomes. Digital technology is opening new forms of entrepreneurial activities. There are various income opportunities entrepreneurs can take up. The future of work and the workplace is set to change as new technologies are set to change how work is done. Therefore, workers should learn new skills and stay updated with the technologies to ensure that they stay relevant in the workplace.