When we first published this blog in March 2019, our focus was on the impact of technology and AI on the future job market. Our conclusion at the time was that so long as our young people have access to the right training and develop the right skillsets, jobs are unlikely to be in short supply.
We still believe this, but now we’ve updated the content to include the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our children’s’ prospects.
We live in an era where technology is advancing every new day. With the rapid changes in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, the dynamic of the job market will be very different in future from the one we have today. Transition is inevitable, and there will be lots of jobs gained and jobs lost under different scenarios in the future.
In the last few years, technology has encountered steady metamorphosis where there are algorithms that respond to customer care inquiries, machines that read X-rays, and vehicles that drive themselves. Although these technologies improve our lives, increased use will lead to downsizing the number of staff members, especially in big companies.
Moreover, political factors will significantly affect the job market in the future. For instance, in the United Kingdom, Brexit is already affecting the job market. A lot of high skilled EU citizens who work in the UK are considering leaving the market within the next decade.
Then there are the effects of the global pandemic. In December 2020, the London School of Economics reported evidence of the impacts of extended school closures on children from already disadvantaged households. The likely longer term adverse effects include inequalities arising from enforced home schooling as well as subsequent access to higher education. Similarly, a recent survey from The Sutton Trust showed that over 60% of employers are cancelling some or all of their internships or work experience placements, meaning fewer potential job opportunities for the current crop of graduates.
While its tempting to feel negative about such a stark picture, if we are to accept that the world is changing, then we need to embrace the opportunity to change along with it.
People will have to develop multiple new skills
Workers in the future will have to be adaptable to two or more different roles simultaneously. The ongoing transition in the education system will play a huge role in helping children develop new skills. People will need to consistently stay updated with the upcoming technological advances as jobs are becoming automated and remote working becomes the “norm”. New areas of work will be created and will people will be required to keep up-to-date in these areas to survive in the job market. There will be employment in the future, but our grandchildren will need to have diverse skills to fit in.
A complete reorganisation will be needed both on the part of the employers and job seekers. For employers, they will need to restructure the working environment to match the technological changes. They will also need to provide the appropriate infrastructure that allow their people to work effectively from any location, while being fully supported by management physically and emotionally. Job seekers will need a mindset shift to be better equip for the type of employment that will mainly focus on skill and self-sufficiency.
Winners and Losers
In the future, there will be winners and losers in the job market. The concept of continuous training will come in handy as people will have the ability to learn new skills quickly and then get employed when they are needed. This suggests that the workforce will shift to more freelance-based and part-time work. Employers will focus more on skills, self-management, leadership, and creativity.
The issue with the increased need for specialised skills is that sections of the population especially those who are unable to retrain and adapt continuously will be isolated. It is impossible for a job market to have all knowledge and creative workers which will cause massive unemployment. This will lead to division between automated jobs and those that need humans.
With that said, jobs will either be lost or gained. It will depend on where society places the value. For instance, for some shareholders, the most productive and cheapest thing to do is automating the workforce which will result in mass unemployment in the future. Conversely, a society can choose to use the advanced technology to save time, produce food, and reduce accidents, which offers a positive societal value.
What jobs will be safe from automation?
Some of the jobs will be hard to automate. For example, those that require genuine creativity such as creating a business plan, being a scientist, and being an artist. Others involve skillsets that require nurturing relationships with people such as nurses and cares. People who will focus on these areas will hardly complain about unemployment. So perhaps our grandchildren will have jobs in the future.