It is no longer news that we are now in the days of digital revolution with the introduction of automated telemarketers, online support systems, market survey tools, self-checkout systems, social media marketing and other artificial intelligence tools. Thus, this raises concerns about the future of the labour market with regards to job losses, relevant skills and job creation, amongst others.

According to a report by Mckinsey Global Institute, ‘Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation’ published in December 2017, employees will need to adapt to the changes in their roles as more machines are increasingly equipped to perform some of their tasks. This adaptation will come largely in form of skills that are relatively hard to automate, which include creativity, social and emotional skills, problem solving skills and the ability to learn, relearn and unlearn.

However, this disruption is not all doom for the labour market as history has shown that increased productivity often leads to more jobs including job creation, some of which we cannot envisage at this time. This is not without saying that this will have significant impact on income as demand and supply interact in this phase.

This reinforces the need for our educational system to capture these changes and aim to instil knowledge and skills relevant for the workplace in the 21st century and the world of work. More so, employers need to keep abreast of the implication of these changes on their workforce and productivity by retraining staff to adapt to technological changes, encouraging employees to pursue innovative ideas and supporting research & development activities.

It is not the time to live in fear but to take advantage of the opportunities these technological advancements present.  Below are some action points to think about:

  • As an employer, what disruption do you envisage in your industry and how are you preparing your staff for this?
  • As a student or employee, what skill(s) are you nurturing and how relevant is this in today’s world of work?

The future is digital and it’s time to embrace it.

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