I recently spoke about the ‘Jobs of the Future’ at Tawdheef, my advice was to stay open and be adaptable to change. Following the discussion, I wanted to share my perspective on the subject of jobs in the future. My advice to everyone who is worried about their livelihoods is don’t panic.
There are several reasons that I consider the hype about automation impact on job loss to be overblown. The first is statistical – By 2030 the working age population, across the world, will decrease leaving a meaningful skills gap on the supply side. At the same time, as GDP grows, the demand for labour will continue to increase. So we are expecting to see a decrease in the labour force and an increase in demand for people. This is in-line with the World Economic Forum’s latest comments which suggest that there will be a skills shortage.
The second reason I tell people not to panic is history. We have been in similar situations to this before. In the 1960s NASA was using humans who were good at mathematics to manually compute complex equations. They didn’t use machines or tools like we do today. When computers were introduced these skilled people didn’t become obsolete, they re-skilled. Setting a mission like going to the moon not only sets the overall challenge but many other things are invented along the way. The Apollo mission was about putting a man on the moon but along the way, there were some valuable technological discoveries, including:
- NASA’s digital imaging technology has been used for MRIs, Radiography, CAT scan, Microscopy medicine
- Renewable energy has been created. Absorbing light when it strikes the surface and transferring it to a semiconductor – i.e. Solar Panels
- Kidney Dialysis Machine
- Moonboot helped revolutionize athletic footwear by inventing shock absorption
- Fireman suits (made from a fabric which didn’t burn)
- Cool suits
- First retractable stadium roof made from spacesuit fabric
- Automatic pool purifier
- Burglar alarm
- Programmable pacemaker
- Cordless inventions like the drill
- Liquid methane for automotive vehicles
- Heart monitor
I think it’s important to remember, life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 5 years.
I get excited by the new opportunities presenting themselves for people to re-skill or up-skill themselves. Blockchain technology is creating new opportunities for those brave enough to take them. AI is both creating new roles, automating functions which are repetitive and add little value to businesses. Fintech is changing the way we bank.
Just as coal miners in the 1980s couldn’t conceive of renewable sources of energy like solar or wind providing us with sustainable energy, we are all coming to terms with the changes that effect every industry in the world.