Automation has little effect on global labour market, despite worries that robots will remove many jobs
The threat of automation to the global jobs market may not be as widespread as first thought, according to new a report by the World Bank.
The report on the changing nature of work, found that the rise of automation has so far had a negligible impact on jobs at a global scale.
This is despite concerns that human jobs will soon be replaced by machines in the years ahead.
The report did admit that industrial jobs have been lost in advanced economies, but this has been more than compensated by the rise of the same sector in East Asia.
“This fear that robots have eliminated jobs – this fear is not supported by the evidence so far,” the World Bank’s Chief Economist Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg told Bloomberg in an interview.
What the World Bank report does admit that the nature of work in the future will evolve.
Automation is likely to continue to replace low-paid routine jobs in advanced economies and developing countries, but it is also “creating opportunities for different, more productive and more creative jobs.”
“This is the fourth industrial revolution, there have been three before, and in each case we managed to survive so it’s not the case that machines completely eliminated humans,” Koujianou Goldberg reportedly said. “Eventually, we will adjust.”
The report did find that the share of industrial employment dropped more than 10 percentage points over the past two decades in countries such as the UK, Spain and Singapore, as workers shifted from manufacturing to service jobs.
But this job shift has apparently been negligible on a global scale.
Job for life?
The report does state that workers in the future are more likely to have many jobs over the course of their careers, mostly because of the gig economy, instead of holding down a position with the same employer for decades.
Skills will be a key component with less advanced skills being replaced by technology, but more advanced skills such as complex problem-solving, teamwork, reasoning and communication talents, being sought by employers.
The World Bank believes that government’s should guarantee an universal minimum level of social protection, as employees move from one job to another. An option here would be an insurance policy that does not depend on working status.
In August the Bank of England chief economist warned that the UK would need a skills revolution to avoid “large swathes” of people becoming “technologically unemployed” as artificial intelligence makes many jobs obsolete.
Prior to that a report from PwC suggested the arrival of artificial intelligence would be a win for the UK jobs market, as it would create as many jobs as it displaces by boosting economic growth over the next 20 years.
Put your knowledge of artificial intelligence to the test. Try our quiz!