Will I be replaced by a robot?

As more jobs become automated concerns over unemployment levels increase but technology will do more for the marketplace then replace workers, according to research.

In the paper entitled 'People, Machines, Robots and Skills' ,the European Centre for Development and Vocational Training (Cedefop) reports that “...nearly half of jobs will be automated out of existence”. A worrying prediction for the global labour market.

Even more concerning is the speed at which these changes are taking place. In the last five years alone “57% of adult employees in the ICT sector have seen changes in their jobs...”

However it's not all doom and gloom. According to the Cedefop brief technological changes will impact the world of work in three ways, that is; job substitution, job creation and job transformation.

Job Substitution

In the past technology would typically replace “routine, low level work” however even higher skilled jobs can now be automated. This is one of the realities fuelling fears around technological advancement in the labour market. This is due to development in robotics, nanotechnology and new materials.

Another threat to employment is the demand for digital skills. The rapid speed at which technology is advancing means that only those with the skills to operate those technologies will find job opportunities in future.

“Technology is polarising the labour market creating high-skilled well-paid jobs at one end and low-skilled low-pay jobs at the other.”

Job Creation

At the same time technology has expanded the scope of work opportunities by creating new jobs.
Jobs such as web analysts or applications specialist did not exist 10 years ago.

Unsurprisingly the ICT sector has experienced the most growth. In the EU it reportedly grew three times more than the rest of the economy and remained strong during economic crisis. “Cedefop forecasts another half a million jobs in ICT occupations by 2025.”

Yet the benefits of technology are not limited to the ICT sector as many other sectors have realized greater work opportunities. For example air planes have had an invaluable effect on the tourism sector.

Job Transformation

“Technology may destroy some jobs and create others but its greatest effect is in transforming jobs and content.”

A 2016 study revealed that certain tasks associated with a job were more likely to be automated than the job itself. “...at least 70% of tasks in these jobs could be automated.”

So what does this mean for the average worker?

Adult workers in the digital sphere are predicted to have the highest risk of becoming obsolete in the workplace. Workers in this sector are expected to undertake continuous learning and development to keep up with the latest changes.

Those in non-ICT sectors are safe in their roles, however their earning potential is considerably less.

According to the report keeping abreast of the latest digital skills requires more than a basic level of digital literacy.

In addition to ICT skills workers must posses and develop their foundational skills, soft skills and behavioural skills.

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You can download the full report here.

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