What Happens After Robots Take Our Jobs?
Research indicates that half of today's work activities could be automated in the next 20 years (McKinsey, 2017). Brands need to prepare for this new reality by investing in human soft skills – such as problem-solving and creativity – to complement the growing number of robotic workers.
A July 2018 paper from the Center for Global Development explores the impact of artificial labour – including artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics – in the labour market and suggests ways to adapt. Highlights include:
- Decline in Job Security: As many as 1.8 billion jobs that exist today – or two-thirds of the total jobs in developing countries – are likely to be replaced by robots and AI in the future. Contrary to popular narrative, rather than causing mass unemployment, this is more likely to decrease wages in low- and medium-skilled jobs, as these are the roles that will face the most competition from automation
- Automation-Reversing Policies: Brands should note that some developing countries are expected to impose measures that would reverse the trend of automation – for example, taxes and regulation making the manufacturing or importing of products made by robots prohibitively costly. These measures, termed "quasi-Luddite" in the paper, are not likely to be sustainable though, as they would make the economies of these countries non-competitive in the global market.
- Invest in Skills: To bolster the effects of automation, companies should focus on developing the quintessentially human skills of their workers, as explained in Career Pioneers. As automation increases, the ability to keep learning throughout life becomes critical. It's never been a better time for brands to position themselves as educational allies, whether by creating platforms to connect consumers to super-mentors or igniting creativity through next-gen tech.
For more information on the impact of robotics and AI on the future of work, see Empowering Tomorrow’s Workforce.