April 6, 2017
“Permanent employment will disappear” Jeremy Rifkin "The end of work” (1995)

Globalization and technological progress will create a two-speed labour market. Creative employees (value added contributors to their employers) and non-creative employees (who will compete at a significant disadvantage with machines and robots. The working conditions of both groups will be dramatically different.

The current stressful situation of the labour market in developing countries is a consequence of several factors that have been implemented in recent years, among which we highlight particularly one: the globalisation.

Globalization has displaced many of the low value-added jobs to developing countries where labour costs are lower. The period of economic euphoria prior to the crisis concealed such fact, emerging with all its harshness at the beginning of the crisis.

Currently, other important factors, but which will be a lot more in the future, are the new technologies, the automation and robotics that are progressively replacing those repetitive jobs of low added value.

At the World Economic Forum (Davos) held in 2016 it was estimated that within the next 5 years,  automation will destroy 7 million jobs worldwide  and it will only create around 2 million (the net balance will be a reduction of 5 million jobs).

According to a recent MIT study for each machine that is incorporated into a productive process, 5,6 jobs are destroyed and by 2025 the number of robots existing today will be multiplied by four.

In my opinion we can differentiate the workforce into two large groups:

– Creative employees: those which contribution is not limited to repetitive functions but adding value with their ideas to the organization that hires them.

This group will be required, on top of creativity, to provide what is so-called “soft skills” such as agility, learning ability, emotional intelligence and strategic and critical thinking, i.e. skills that do not usually come out in curriculum and which machines are not able to develop.

– The non-creative employees: whether manual or not that can easily be replaced by a more or less intelligent machine. It must be taken into account that due to artificial intelligence the scope of these employees will expand to other activities that until now were difficult to mechanize, including the activities involving white collar worker.

The OCDE recently set forth that in Spain there are 9,5 million low skilled adults, that hardly will  find a job again.

For many of these low skilled workers the future will be constrained by limited work opportunities, that in any case will be for sure precarious and probably at part time. The solution comes from continuous training, mainly taking into account that 40% of the expected job positions in 2050, today do not exist.

With respect to the creative ones it is expected that they make good profit of their knowledge and talent, seeking for individualized relations (through internet platforms), multi-company (on demand), remote, flexible and subject to mobility, which some HR managers already refer to as “liquid workforce”. Continuous training will be essential and a key element to them.

On the other hand and in the longer term, it will be interesting to see how tecnohumanism will affect this group, that is to say, the possibility of improving their intellectual and creative capacities through the implantation or fusion of the human body with machines or through techniques of genetic manipulation.