Work automation: should I be worried?
Economists make predictions about where job automation will take the economy, but if there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that the trend is only gaining momentum. We look at the changes ahead and how we can adapt to secure our working future.
Technology continues to advance at a dizzying pace and, as we learned from the last Industrial Revolution, the automation of processes in the workplace will lead to the destruction of jobs. According to a Randstad study ‘Flexibility at work, Embracing change‘, 52% of current jobs in Spain are at risk of being partially or fully automated in the next decade. But new opportunities may also arise for those who know how to take advantage of this inevitable occupational metamorphosis.
The advent of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution must encourage us to think of new ways to add value to our jobs before automation or artificial intelligence takes over our tasks. The final effect of automation can and must be a very positive thing for the vast majority of the population. Especially if we as a society understand that, while many workers feel economic insecurity as a real threat, it also allows us to adapt to this transition and the new technological reality.
Efficiency and profitability
Transferring production tasks from human hands to an automated process optimises mass production, reduces production costs and the use of resources and, at the same time, increases profitability. Not only will the industrial sector increase the tasks it allocates to automation, but also technology sectors in administration, finance, or logistics will benefit from it.
And this is key because when we talk about job losses, experts say that it is the tasks, and not the professions themselves, that technology is automating. In other words, these technologies do not necessarily replace people, but they do replace tasks that are less valued or require less professional skills, competences, or knowledge.
Education and lifelong learning
The importance of acquiring digital skills is obviously a necessity that we cannot dismiss if we have to adapt to this new labour scenario dominated by new technologies, but we cannot forget that this implies continuous and constantly updated training
One of the things we have learned in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic is the importance of many professions in essential services, health, or education, where the human factor is not easily replaced by technology, nor are jobs requiring skills such as creativity or communication ability. These are sectors of the economy that are unlikely to be significantly affected by automation, at least in the near future.
It remains to be seen how technology, artificial intelligence, and automation will transform the economy in general, and, above all, how the generations that were not born into a digital world will adapt. What is certain, however, is that the automation of processes and tasks that, until very recently, seemed implausible that we humans could not do, has not only already arrived, but will remain part of our day-to-day lives.
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