We are living through the times of fundamental transformation in the way we work. The pace of change is accelerating. On the one hand, automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs and are changing the skill sets, and talent that employers are looking for in their people, and on the other hand, there is a debate of believers saying technology can never replace humankind.
While the Utopian perspective ushers hope for greater inclusion, improved wages for all, time for leisure and increased creativity, the Dystopian perspective envisages a future with a lack of equality in the workforce and increased unemployment.
While the familiar and the widely studied trends like economic forces and shifts, redistribu-tion of wealth, competition, scarcity of resources, power and opportunities around the world continue to reshape both the society and the world of work, there are emerging dis-ruptive innovations, new business models, and radical thinking that are impacting every sector and are dramatically altering the viewpoints of the
Elemental, cardinal relationship of an ‘employer’ and the ‘employee’ itself.
This is due to the rise of a concept called ‘Gig Economy’. The term gig economy refers to an inclusive workforce environment in which short-term engagements, temporary contracts, and independent contracting are a common practice. The
widespread growth of the gig economy and the number of workers leveraging them is a sure indicator that the nature of work as we know is changing. The workforce over the last decade had to reinvent itself in the face of the changing economy. On-demand services surged, and all the market players bought into it, especially those who are tech-savvy. There are indications that technology-enabled economies will flourish, as the younger, tech-immersed generations age and continue to join the workforce.
The following fundamental points need to be considered for this argument:
Significant technological advancement and innovation in automation, robotics and Artificial intelligence is rapidly growing and are dramatically changing the nature of the jobs and the number of posts. While technology, clearly, has the power to improve our lives, raising productivity, few sectors, roles, and industries, and even entire sections of the workforce will lose out on jobs. Automation will result in a massive restructuring and rebalancing of work. It will not only alter the types of jobs available, but even their perceived value. While it replaces workers doing routine, methodical tasks, it can amplify the comparative ad-vantage of those workers with leadership, problem‐ solving, Emotional Intelligence, crea-tive and empathetic skills. This means that jobs will prioritize creativity, innovation, imagi-nation, reasoning and designing skills
The changing landscape of size, age and distribution of the world’s population with a few exceptions is demanding for creation of more jobs. Particularly in the case of India, a signifi-cant population is youth, and the country is becoming younger. As the growth benefit of the young society is not spontaneous, a lot depends on whether this growth in working population can be trained, enough jobs to employ the youth who will join the labor force every year can be created, thereby there is an increased pressure on business, social institu-tions, governments and economies to create more jobs. This is leading to a swelling concern that future growth could turn out to be jobless due to the fourth industrial revolution and technological progress and this celebrated demographic dividend might become a demo-graphic curse. A dearth of jobs coupled with a demographic dividend, will increase the eco-nomic insecurity of the nation, as there will be lesser people generating wealth.
Skilling, Re-skilling,and Up-skilling will become the norm. Investing efficiently in people will enable India and prepare the country for the future. There is an essential link between these investments in human capital, economic growth, stability and security of the nation. Investing in people through quality education, apprenticeships, jobs and skilling, re-skilling and upskilling helps build a productive human capital, which is key to supporting economic growth, creating more inclusive societies and ending extreme poverty. Conducting a more strategic and aggressive education agenda fits the bill. Policymakers should place more sig-nificant incentives to promote human capital so that it can contribute to economic growth and job creation. High-quality education is one of the most reliable ways for the country to reduce poverty, achieve gender equality, and create more jobs. Demographic dividend without investing in human capital will be a lost development opportunity, as it will further stretch economic and social gaps, instead of shrinking them. To stay ahead, we need to fo-cus on our ability to continuously adapt, engage with people in that process, and most im-portantly retain our core sense of identity and values. Intellectual complacency is not our friend and learning, not just new things but new ways of thinking is a life-long endeavor.”
In the face of these multifarious changes, we need to abide by the following fundamentals:
- Acting now: As this isn’t about some ‘far future’ of work – change is already happening and accelerating.
- Making bigger leaps: Our starting point should not constrain us.
- Owning the technology debate: Artificial Intelligence and Automation will affect every level of businesses and people. Therefore a deep understanding and perceptive insight into the changing technology land-scape is inevitable.
- People not jobs: Protect people. Organizations can’t protect posts which are made redundant by technology – but they do have a responsibility to their people. Nurture agility, adaptability and re-skilling.
- Building a clear narrative: A majority of the workforce is anxious about the future and their job due to automation. We need to, therefore, start a mature conversation about the future.
In rumination, is the relentless march of technology to blame or credit for this transfor-mation? Our markets are already reorganizing towards personalized services and gigs, and technology is merely finding its ways to fit into the economic puzzle. Conceivably more than ever, we require opportunities for new businesses and new entrepreneurs, opportunities. The sea of change that we are witnessing in the economy today brings uncertainty and in-security, which has to be adequately addressed by building conversations around them and encouraging innovation on every level. Task-oriented work has already gathered high mo-mentum, which suggests that in the not-too-far-off the future that we will nurture an economy that will rebuild itself on millions of small businesses rather than millions of 9-to-5 jobs.