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Fear Is Okay, Complacency Kills Jobs

The collision of demographic changes, the rapid spread of automation and rising income inequality will have the potential to trigger an unparalleled major economic and employment disruption far greater than we have ever experienced. Understanding and planning for these inevitable disruptions will be vital when future-proofing jobs.

In fact, there’s a total of 62 challenges workers are facing in their workplaces.

People don’t plan to fail. They just fail to plan and future proof themselves for the inevitable.

While fear is a normal human emotion and may paralyze us from taking action, it’s complacency that will ultimately kill them and their jobs.

We, therefore, have to constantly pay attention to what’s going on around us. We have to be vigilant, flexible and adapting to landscapes that are constantly changing and shifting.

Fear mongering sells

Every day, we read about robots taking over our jobs.

“Will robots take my job?”

“The robots are coming for your jobs.”

“Robots will steal your job.”

“Robots are the ultimate job stealers.”

We also come across findings from Gallop which found that in the U.S.:

  1. 58% say new technology is the greater threat to jobs.
  2. 23% worry that they may lose their jobs to technology.
  3. 76% say artificial intelligence will change the way people work and live.
  4. 73% say artificial intelligence adoption will result in net job loss.

Just like there is no one property market in any one country, there’s also not one single conclusion that we can derive from the threat of automation, technology, and artificial intelligence.

It should be noted that predictions of widespread job destruction could be overstated by many especially when we take demographics, economics, income inequality and job creation into account.

There are limiting factors to automation

Let’s be clear.

Each country, each geographical location, and each job market and industry is very different. Demographics are different. Economic growth is different. Organizations are very different.

To say that robots will be taking over our jobs is not that true, yet.

(For the purposes of this article, I have used the term “automation” to include robotics, artificial intelligence, and all things technology.)

There is a cost involved in deploying technologies. Organizations need to be able to quantify and justify the benefits over the cost of investing in any technological solutions. While it is easy to say that automation will take over our jobs, the cost of doing so may be too prohibitive for some organizations.

Depending on the country and geographical location, organizations may not be able to justify the huge monetary investment in technologies, yet. ‘Cheap’ labor may be in abundance. Access to capital and technology may be difficult. Access to people skills to deploy and maintain new technologies may not be present.

McKinsey has said that automation will not happen overnight. For them, there are five key factors that will influence the pace and extent of its adoption:

  1. The technology must be feasible and it is invented, integrated and adapted into solutions that can automate specific activities.
  2. The cost of developing and deploying solutions must not be prohibitive.
  3. Labor market dynamics including the supply and demand and the costs of human labor can present an alternative to automation.
  4. Whether these new technologies have tangible economic benefits that could be translated into higher throughput, increased quality, and labor cost savings.
  5. Whether the technology has regulatory and social acceptance that makes business sense.

McKinsey also noted that while the impact of automation might be slower at the macro level within entire sectors or economies, they could be faster at a micro level.

This is where an individual worker’s activities could be automated quickly. Or organizations may use automation to overcome possible disruption caused by their competitors.

In short, there are certain limiting factors that may prevent automation from being deployed in mass and ultimately take over our jobs.

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