Oxford University economists Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne are predicting that 40 percent of roles in the job market will be lost to automation by 2050. A sobering thought.
For years, many have feared this progression towards reliance on ‘robots’. And these anxieties have been brought to life in many a blockbuster film – Terminator and The Matrix to name but two.
But should we really be worried about losing our jobs to machines? Or will it be more a case of survival of the most adaptable?
“Training and development will prove to be crucial as new technology changes the way we all work,” says HCR Managing Director, Rob Dolbear. “There will be times when roles are made redundant – think cashiers, bookkeepers and telephone operators – because they can be achieved by a machine at a fraction of the cost…so those who are quick to re-train will win out.
“It may well become the norm for an employee to be proficient and two or three different roles. And employers will think more about which specialisms they need across their business, rather than how many workers.
“The labour market will become far more fluid, as the pace of technology moves on apace. Specific roles could exist for just a month at a time, before the incumbent must retrain and move sideways.
“I don’t view any of this pessimistically though. The way we work now is very different to the way we worked in the 1950s, but we’ve all moved with the times. And that’s what we’ll do again.
“Employers will need to get better at ensuring children understand the needs of the future labour market – and it’s vital that they are given every opportunity to keep up-to-date with the latest technology.
“To a certain extent, this is already happening. Businesses are wasting no time in visiting schools well before pupils gear up for their GCSEs. Bosses are getting in early to talk to young people about the careers open to them – particularly when it comes to apprenticeships.
“This is our opportunity to prepare future recruits for the times ahead – and the directions they should take in order to ensure they fit into the highly-specialised jobs that simply cannot be automated. For now anyway.
“Inevitably, there will be those who are unable to adapt and move with the times by training and re-training. So we may move to a two-tiered society. But we’re still a long way from realistically being able to rely on artificial intelligence for even the most basic of roles.
“Robots can be programmed to do simple tasks – but they cannot yet think completely for themselves, certainly not in the same way as humans do. And this is crucial. We still have time to prepare future generations for new ways of working.
“It’s up to us as employers to ensure they know that the roles they see their parents filling today may not even exist by the time they begin their careers. Their parents will adapt to survive. And so must they.”