There have been concerns about machines and robots taking over human jobs. Those concerns have been validated by a new report. The latest research from the World Economic Forum forecasts that by 2025, machines will perform more current work tasks than humans, compared to 71% being performed by humans today. The report goes on to add that machines will perform more than half of all “work tasks” by 2025, compared to just 29% today, which will lead to the displacement of 75 million jobs between now and 2022. However, the study also goes on predict that over the same 5 year period, rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced. This will lead to 58 million net new jobs.
No doubt, such a huge digital transformation would have a profound effect on the global labor force. The research, published in The Future of Jobs 2018, is an attempt to understand the potential of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), etc. to disrupt and create jobs. It also seeks to provide guidance on how to improve the quality and productivity of the current work being done by humans and how to prepare people for emerging roles. This is all the more reason for humans to embrace the technological revolution that is underway and adapt to it, rather than sit at the sidelines and watch their livelihoods being taken away. The robots are nothing to fear and machines will work for the people rather than against them.
The report is based on a survey of chief human resources officers and top strategy executives from companies across 12 industries and 20 developed and emerging economies (which collectively account for 70% of global GDP), the report finds that 54% of employees of large companies would need significant re- and up-skilling in order to fully harness the growth opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the same time, just over half of the companies surveyed said they planned to reskill only those employees that are in key roles while only one third planned to reskill at-risk workers.
While 50% of all companies expect their fulltime workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation, almost 40% expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise. The rise of intelligent machines will no doubt take away jobs but they will also create new ones and the balance will be in humanity’s favor. Extreme automation and advancements in technology may turn out to be a good and beneficial for humans. The predictions are in stark contrast to the general concerns that new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, etc. will take away jobs in droves and leave human beings redundant. However, it is difficult to predict if the displacement of jobs will not lead to struggle and conflict among people who would have lost their livelihood due to the digitalization of the society.
The report presents a vision of a future global workforce that provides grounds for both optimism and caution. The outlook for job creation is much more positive than before as businesses have a much greater understanding of the opportunities made available by technology. At the same time, the huge disruption automation will bring to the global labor force is almost certain to bring with it significant shifts in the quality, location, format and permanency of roles that will require close attention from leaders in the public and private sector.
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