Is technology set to create jobs, rather than replace them?

Is technology set to create jobs, rather than replace them?

If you were to look back through our blogs, we’ve commented more than once on the premise of AI and other new technologies, and how they might impact jobs in the future.

A new report, however, flips the general consensus – that AI will eventually replace a good portion of the jobs that humans carry out currently - by suggesting that technology will not replace but create jobs. Whether the number of jobs it will be responsible for creating will cancel out the amount lost through automation is yet to be seen, but it certainly makes a change to read positive reports on the advancement of technology and what it will do for tomorrow’s job market.

The study, carried out by Robert Half Recruitment, featured the opinions of 600 business leaders across the UK. 65% of them reported their belief that the developments in technology will “lead to an increase in the number of permanent roles”, and they also cited that 39% more temporary positions would be created.

An interesting finding from the study shows that Wales and the South West would likely see the most job growth, with 75% of leaders from this location confirming their belief that technology will have a positive impact on hiring, compared to 64% of leaders from London saying the same.

Half of those surveyed saw “digital transformation having the biggest impact within their business over the next 12 months”. Not new trade deals. Not Brexit. (The study was probably carried out before the Coronavirus turned into a pandemic.)

One example of a company enjoying a digital transformation is Mastercard, who plans to create 1500 technology jobs at their Dublin base – the news forming one of the biggest ever job announcements in the company’s 70-year history. FNZ, a company that provides a software platform for savings products, is another to mushroom. It plans to create 50 jobs in its expansion into Dundee, with another 150 jobs to follow over the next two years.

The outlook for technology workers is certainly not bleak. This element of the job market was recently described as “robust” by Christy Whitehead, chief data scientist and talent economist at Workforce Logiq. She adds that workers in this sector are taking advantage of the demand for their skills, negotiating better remuneration packages and moving up the ladder as a result.

Despite a number of menial jobs being fulfilled by AI solutions, new industries will always create jobs. Take the move, for example, by all major car manufacturers to include at least one electric or hybrid model in their range. This new technology is perpetually being developed and improved, and technology workers are not just needed to create the perfect electric engine, but also to improve these cars’ batteries, charging points and fuel systems. Go back twenty or thirty years and these jobs wouldn’t have even existed.

The fear that AI will one day take over the entire workplace is unfounded, says Daniel Susskind, an Oxford economist. He says that the widely-held belief that “robots will steal our jobs” is far off the mark. “These robots exist, but they’re often gimmicks.” He adds, “The technologies that are really very powerful don’t look, think or reason like us. The second mistake is to think of entire jobs being replaced. These technologies tend to displace people from tasks – what I call task encroachment.”

Whilst manual and monotonous jobs can easily be replaced by technology, any role that needs a human’s ability to predict and visualise, to empathise and reassure, to plan and explore. Give a robot a job and it will do it…and do it well. Think of your own job, however – how much of your day-to-day role involves unproblematic, straightforward tasks? How much time do you spend at work improvising, thinking on the spot, placating and engaging emotionally with others? We’re all human, and therefore social creatures - we’re not going to want to solely interact with robots from dusk until dawn.

Technology undoubtedly has its place in our modern world, and reading all the above, it will enrich the job market and redefine it, rather than erasing humans out of the picture altogether.


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