Evolution is fundamental and it keeps pushing mankind to think about the future. While we work on making the most out of our present, we also continuously hustle for a brighter and smarter tomorrow.
The future of work was the talking point of one of the panel discussions at the ongoing World Economic Forum happening in Davos, Switzerland. Leaders José María Álvarez-Pallete, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Pamela Coke-Hamilton and Martin J Walsh highlighted factors vital to future-proof the workforce.
We know the pandemic changed the way we work now and will ever work again. As rightly described by the Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica, Álvarez-Pallete, “things that were supposed to happen five years from now, happened in the middle of the pandemic.” This resulted in an altered labour market. We saw millions of job cuts globally and a complete evaporation of some positions.
Hence, the question arises, will we ever go back to the way the job market used to be? The Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Houngbo, believes yes we will. He said, “The world will go back in terms of work that we have lost. On the other hand, I don’t think we will ever go back in terms of the way we organised the industry, such as working remotely.”
The United States Secretary of Labour, Walsh, resonated with the Director General and emphasised the need for immigration reform and reskilling and upskilling the workforce.
“While we are already fighting inflation, the next bigger threat can be, not having enough workers. In fact, forget the jobs being created; there are jobs available right now in the USA that we don't have enough people for. America has been a country that always depends on immigrants. That’s why the need of the hour is immigration reform and reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce,” said Martin J Walsh.
In the aftermath of Covid-19, developed countries are still trying to stand up and boost their economy. On the other side, low and middle-income economies are now struggling more than ever. The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Coke-Hamilton, stated that around the globe women struggled the most.
“Nearly 2 million women were removed from the workplace in the United States alone because of the pandemic,” she said, and suggested, “To solve this problem, which is scaling rapidly, we need investments in new technologies. This step will lead to upskilling the workforce and in sustainable green growth,” added Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
Speaking of technology, it’s an applied science that is transforming the way we see the world around us. But, it doesn’t come without its shortcoming, suggested José María Álvarez-Pallete. “Technology is creating inequality and it’s a major challenge that we are facing today as a society,” he said.
“While technology is making the impossible possible, we also need to remember, it’s destroying millions of jobs. Hence, if we don't handle this ongoing transition in the right manner, we will be dealing with social unrest, which is the most dangerous thing that the society can have to face,” added Álvarez-Pallete.