The future of jobs - Perspectives // EIT Digital

The future of jobs - Perspectives

Labour displacement. My take is that the robotisation of many jobs will push towards the creation of new types of jobs. Credit: Collective responsibility

According to an often quoted statement from Alan Greenspan, Fed Reserve Chairman till 2006, a student in the US likely would have 5 jobs in her lifetime, 4 of which have not been invented yet.  This refers to an address he gave to university students at the time he was in office. The point was made to emphasise that students today need to be prepared to face the unknown with an open mind.

More recent studies from the Economic World Forum are basically reinforcing this. 

60% of the jobs that will be in most demand in the next decade have not been been invented and even more staggering 65% of newborn in 2020 will be working on jobs that do not exist today.

Even though the source is an important one, I have some doubts on these "forecast". However the point is clear. The job landscape is going to change significantly in the coming years, at a pace that is even faster than the one we have witnessed in the past.

It is not just "quality" (or types of jobs). It is also about quantity and competition. The world is shrinking, the job marketplace is spanning the world. Today's students in China will be able to take job positions in Europe (and the other way around). The growing de-localisation of jobs (not all types of course) will make this even more real and impactful. We have seen in the last part of the XX century the de-localisation of manufacturing thanks to ever more efficient supply and delivery chains. In the coming decade the shift towards softwarization of products and the growth of digital industry (Industry 4.0) will boost job de-localisation. The commoditisation of real time translation will destroy the language barrier.

European students competitors will be students from all over the world (and of course, looking at the bright side, European students will be able to take jobs anywhere).

At the same time the progressive robotisation of many jobs will drive the invention of new job types (at least this is my forecast: robots will not decrease the jobs, they will shift human work onto different kind of jobs). Very possibly this will be an important factor in the appearance of new types of jobs.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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