How Many Jobs will Be Lost?
The World Economic Forum’s report from April claimed that 2 of every 5 jobs lost during the pandemic may not come back. “We estimate that 42% of recent pandemic-induced layoffs will result in permanent job loss,” said Steven J. Davis a leading expert on hiring practices at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Just three months ago, predictions about the pandemic economic situation weren’t optimistic, and the future that we are living in now is confirming it: “If the economic shutdown lingers for many months, or if serious pandemics become a recurring phenomenon, there will be profound, long-term consequences for the reallocation of jobs, workers, and capital across firms and locations.”
An Ulster University study that used official labour market data has shown that the economic damage of the coronavirus crisis will hit young workers hardest. The study estimates that youth (ages 16-24) unemployment in Northern Ireland could jump from 8% to 26% in 2020, and the study’s results have appeared in article form as “Coronavirus: The future for young workers post-pandemic”.
Better Be Prepared For the Future that Is Coming
The future of society and the economy after the Pandemic will also affect job and workplace sustainability. Based on research done by David Timis, a keynote speaker at International Youth Summer School, who is focused on the impact artificial intelligence will have on the future of work, the future and even the present will be better characterized by the acronym VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
All 4 words might be scary, but this will be a new reality, and David thinks that we should be better prepared for it.
The report of David Timis shows that the Pandemic poses a particular threat to the jobs that have already been at risk through automation – jobs that require personal contact, physical work, jobs at warehouses, manufacturing, jobs in retail, where you have to do mundane work with people.
The speed and scale of change depending on the country and context. The jobs which are the safest are the ones which have to do with technology, or with companies that are adopting the process of automation. This is one sector which will definitely be growing.
Becoming a nurse has never been more important and needed. Both men and women should go for this career, we can see now that there are not enough of people choosing this kind of work. The caring sector will be growing exponentially, together with the digital sector.
Future Social and State Orders
From the other side, if we start thinking about social and state orders and how they might be linked with future jobs and skills, we can relate to the current situation and predictions about it. Now we are witnessing global centralization and the big social changes that are arriving. A recent BBC article notes four possible social orders in nation-states:
- State capitalism: centralised responses prioritising exchange value
- Barbarism: decentralised responses prioritising exchange value
- State socialism: centralised responses prioritising the protection of life
- Mutual aid: decentralised responses prioritising the protection of life.
How Social Orders will Affect our Jobs?
If state capitalism wins, this will mean that many workers will keep their jobs and will get the salary for the work that they usually do no matter of their efficiency caused by illness.
We cannot guarantee how long this might last or whether this system is sustainable, but this system has the ability to protect workers right for some period of time to aim to prepare them for the transition. This can be described as a bridge system, not as the main one.
“Barbarism is the future if we continue to rely on exchange value as our guiding principle and yet refuse to extend support to those who get locked out of markets by illness or unemployment.” It means that if Barbarism happens, the wolf philosophy of Thomas Hobbes will become reality: The war everyone against everybody, on the market but also in our lives.
“In the state socialism scenario, the state steps in to protecting the parts of the economy that are essential to life: the production of food, energy, and shelter for instance, so that the basic provisions of life are no longer subject to the whims of the market.”This system could be considered as ideal because it would decrease the demand of the market and at the same time, the main focus will be on the need for humanity, not profit.
Mutal aid system cannot be the main one, only additional that provides protection for people who are grouping in communities and providing services that state is not. Workers’ unions will be reborn again and could start fighting against the market in aim to win their rights.
Inteligent operations: Theodoor van de Klaauw
How should we be prepared for the future and use all the available information to prevent the worst scenario from happening? Theodoor van de Klaauw, a young IT professional with a special interest in the Internet of Things (IoT), Cognitive computing, and entrepreneurship, tried to give us a new perspective on the future during the Webinar “Intelligent operations”.
Mr. van de Klaauw describes the future in terms of intelligent operations: automation, machine learning, data operations, strategy and processes, high perform organisations, insight, and analytics- capability with information, automation and transformation.
This means that most of our future jobs will be online, linked with artificial intelligence, digitalization, and robotization. The way to work through this will be: Improving those systems and using them in an intelligent way.
The most illustrative way to understand the future that has already come: “It’s not the strongest spices that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change.” (Charles Darwin)
This would suggest, in Theodoor’s opinion, that new ways of working will focus on the ability to identify, evaluate, and act upon emerging trends, doing the right things but also doing things right. What is clear is that technology and human intelligence will work together, and we need to start getting used to it.
Speed of learning will be the crucial factor in implementing new skills, and those skills are getting more and more complicated. Advice for all young people is that: IT will be more a matter of elementary knowledge than a matter of advanced education. Prioritize IT and technology.
One of the questions that arises is where to start exploring the topic before it becomes a part of the job landscape? Theodoor’s answer may be something that we all already knew – educational platforms such as coursera or edix.com, educational programs, courses related to the topic of the role of IT in the public environment, all different technologies, all following the news – one way or another.
Being aware of what is going on and which decision will be reasonable to take.
4C Will Be the Foundation of the Careers
From the other side, David Timis defines 4C as the foundation of the careers of the future – critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating.
These soft skills are the foundation of the careers of the future. They are already here, David emphasized in the Webinar, but will especially be present in the future with an increasing amount of automation and robots taking some of the tasks we do, above all data-driven and repetitive tasks.
There is no one specific experience to develop all these skills, it’s a combination of many experiences. Young professionals and people from the Youth Time network can volunteer. It’s a great and safe place to learn and try out to become leaders in your community. You can carry on volunteering for the rest of your life, concludes David.
Pros and Contras of the Future
Many privacy and ethical dilemmas will come out during the crisis of IT development, said Theodoor van der Klaauw. A deep understanding of human-computer relationships is critical to serving societies well.
In the future we will need to think about:
- Education and collaboration – who is on the receiving end of education – (are our kids educating our robots, or are robots educating our kids?).
- Trust and purpose – not just to understand why we use technology as much as how we do, to create a safe zone for us.
- Debating and philosophizing: How the computer influences the way we think in certain circumstances?
The crisis has given us a new perspective on online safety. It is important to realise that organisations and countries need to change their way of working and to build resilience, because the causes are evident: cybercriminal activity will increase in the future, and global warming will be one of the main topics which will affect exponential decision making.
The U.N. disarmament chief has said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warns that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.” (You can read more in the article)
Digital skills and expertise will determine individual as well as organisational success, given a sustainable workplace and skills. This will cause humans to be replaced by technology, in Theodoor’s opinion, but above all in repetitive jobs such as administration and driving.
But from the other side, he is an Anthropology optimist who thinks that computers will help us to do our jobs but also to create new work opportunities for more people.
Also, artificial intelligence is becoming part of the new society, and the new society will have new problems, and problems are the way of consolidation. Artificial Intelligence can help us to reconnect again, concludes Theodoor van de Klaauw.
On the question Which skills will be definitely be needed in the future, David Timis responds that we should improve our soft skills, which will definitely be in high demand, probably higher than today because automation is happening and can’t be stopped, and it’s good if we use it for its benefits.
He doesn’t like to make predictions, preferring to take stock of different research projects before forming his opinion.
It definitely seems, concludes David Timis, that the future of skills is easier to predict than the future of jobs. Once again the answer is: soft skills and basic digital skills.
Photos: Shutterstock, edited by Martina Adveney
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