Monday, February 20, 2012

The Future of Work and Jobs

I am going to try and summarise very briefly a subject that has become a hot trending topic on the net and elsewhere. It is very important – one of the most important topics that impose themselves on us as we enter the turbulent times of the 2020’s.

This isn’t exactly new – Jeremy Rifkin wrote ‘The End of Work’ in 1995, and it has been apparent for many years that increasing technology would lead to an era where much or most work could be automated, but that this would lead to difficulties in earning wages for much of the population. A newer book that summarises the problems and discusses solutions is ‘The Lights in the Tunnel’ by Martin Ford

Recently the Economist dedicated a whole section to the topic (The Future of Jobs), which indicates that it is now mainstream. And futurist Thomas Frey recently gave a talk on TED predicting that 2 billion jobs would go by the year 2030 (technology drivers - alternative power sources, autonomous cars, free web based education, 3d printers, robotics)

Here I will try and summarise the key points about the whole issue:

  1. There is a growing divide within most countries between specialised high paid jobs and low skill low paid.
  2. The middle ground is becoming scarce, leading to a permanent systemic increase in unemployment, and in temporary employment.
  3. Globalisation and outsourcing are major contributory factors.
  4. Education is no longer providing enough people with the skills needed to find employment.
  5. The technology driven changes are happening faster that the political and educational system can respond.
  6. Service based jobs cannot increase fast enough to absorb the gap.
  7. Current models of employment, pay, tax and welfare are creaking under the strain.
  8. Society needs to find new ways of distributing wealth and dividing labour.
  9. Such issues are of course difficult, and not helped by highly dubious trends like the Zeitgeist movement and the Venus Project.

A brief summary of necessary changes from the Economist report:
  •  Changing education so that people enter the workforce equipped with the right skills.
  • Adjusting the tax system
  • Modernizing the welfare safety net
  • Creating a climate conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.
So that should be easy, then :)

No comments:

Post a Comment