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People make machines, machines create unemployed

A.V. (TRANSLATED BY COSMIN GHIDOVEANU)
English Section /

People make machines, machines create unemployed

The quarantine has deepened the inequalities on the labor market and has significantly sped up the pace at which the public and private sectors need to act to ensure that millions of people keep their jobs on a market that is changing due to technology, according to a report published this week by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The quarantine has deepened the inequalities on the labor market and has significantly sped up the pace at which the public and private sectors need to act to ensure that millions of people keep their jobs on a market that is changing due to technology, according to a report published this week by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

It states that in the coming five years, automation and new labor division will eliminate 85 million jobs all over the world.

According to the document, remote work will be maintained, and employees will have to expect to change their career, or to improve their skills several times during their career, respectively, in order to adapt to new work trends.

Thus, almost half of the workers who would keep their jobs in the next five years will have to learn new skills, and by 2025 employers will divide the work equally between humans and robots.

"The quarantine of has rushed the arrival of the future of work", said Saadia Zahidi, the head of the WEF, who mentioned that inequality will probably increase if the workers laid off are not qualified for new professions.

According to the report, more than two fifths of the major companies polled by the WEF intend to cut their workforce due to their integration of technology. The document states: "For the first time in recent years, job creation is starting to slow down, which will severely affect disadvantaged workers".

WEF recalls that the quarantine has caused a sharp rise in global unemployment, and in that context several major economies in Europe and other parts of the world have provided various forms of support.

As unemployment figures rise, social protection needs to be expanded as a matter of urgency", the report states, and mentions that that also applies to providing support for the reconversion of workers that no longer have jobs and need to handle the jobs "of the future".

According to the WEF, the quarantine risks deepening existing inequalities in the labor market as the hardest-hit industries, including travel and tourism, hospitality and retail, tend to have younger, lower-paid workers.

It should be noted that the World Bank has warned that the quarantine could increase income inequality, or could push to up to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year.

According to the WEF, surveys of nearly 300 global companies show that four out of five executives are accelerating plans to computerize work and introduce new technologies, nullifying progress on job creation following the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

 Significant demand for services in the cloud computing and electronic retail trade areas

The report points out that the quarantine has accelerated the adoption of technology by businesses and consumers, with a significant increase in demand for cloud computing and e-commerce services, which negatively affects companies that are unable to service their customers online.

The WEF also mentions that workers who cannot work from home, either because their jobs require face-to-face interaction or because they have limited access to the internet, have been severely disadvantaged during this period.

Efforts to support those affected by the current crisis lag behind the pace of change, "said WEF founder Klaus Schwab.

We are in a defining moment - the decisions and choices we make today will determine the course of the lives and livelihoods of entire generations".

According to the WEF report, changing the division of labor between people and machines could, however, give rise to 97 million new jobs by 2025. However, these are no longer jobs of the past, and the jobs that will tend to become increasingly redundant include administrative assistants, accountants and clerks in charge of salaries. On the other hand, the increasingly sought-after positions include those in the green economy, data and artificial intelligence, engineering, cloud computing, product development.

The areas in which humans will be able to maintain their advantages over robots are management, counseling, decision-making, thinking, communication and interaction", said the study, which anticipates an increase in the number of jobs in marketing, sales and content production.

About 43% of the surveyed companies said they are ready to reduce their workforce as a result of technology integration, 41% intend to expand their use of contractors, and 34% consider expanding their workforce due to technology integration, the study also reveals.

According to him, some workers whose jobs are vulnerable could move into new careers. WEF states that 94% of companies surveyed expect employees to gain new skills in the workplace, compared to only 65% in 2018.

 LinkedIn: Many professionals that have moved into positions in the new economy come from completely different occupations

A survey by LinkedIn performed for the WEF shows that many professionals who have moved to "emerging positions in the new economy" in the last five years come from completely different occupations, which in some cases did not involve similar skills.

For example, according to the source, half of those who switched to data science and artificial intelligence (AI) professions came from independent industries. This figure rises to 67% for engineering positions, 72% for content and 75% for sales.

The transition to data and AI allows for the greatest variation in skill profiles, according to the LinkedIn study, which found that half of those who moved to these positions previously from vastly different skills.

The study notes that companies are investing more and more in retraining existing employees, and half of the workers who remain in their jobs will have to learn new skills in order to do their job in an increasingly automated world.

The WEF report cites a study by online education service provider Coursera, which found that between April and June, the supply of online learning opportunities from employers increased fivefold and the number of people looking for online learning opportunities of their own accord increased four times.

The war between humans and robots, often encountered in literature and cinema, is about to become a reality on the labor market, faster than we would have expected. Last year's estimates were completely turned upside down by the effects of the health crisis, and the transition from human to machine in the labor market has suddenly accelerated.

While we are now being told that robots will cause the loss of 85 million jobs in the next five years, a year ago the outlook was completely different. A study published by British firm Oxford Economics claimed that robots could replace 20 million employees by 2030 globally.

The least qualified employees were to be the most affected, and it was to occur in an extremely uneven manner from one country to another or even in the same country. Many experts said that while automation generally contributes to job creation, it has also led to a division between skilled and low-skilled jobs, leaving many employees out of work. The Oxford Economics study estimated that the current wave of "automation" will increase productivity and growth, while creating as many jobs as it will eliminate. Experts said the global economy could generate up to $ 5,000 billion by 2030 as a result of increased productivity due to automation.

The study also revealed that robots will be increasingly present in trade, health, the hotel and restaurant industry, in transportation, as well as in construction and agriculture. On the other hand, also in 2019, the chief economist of the World Bank, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg stated that the increase in automation had a negligible impact on the number of jobs worldwide. "The fear that robots have eliminated jobs is not backed by evidence so far," said Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg.

The report of the World Bank, titled "World Development Report 2019", stressed that the nature of work will evolve in the future. Even technological advances in automation allow robots to take on thousands of routine tasks and eliminate many low-skilled jobs from advanced economies and developing countries, they also create opportunities for different, more productive and creative jobs. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg says: "This is the fourth industrial revolution, there have been three so far, and in each case we have managed to survive so that there is no question of machines completely eliminating people. Eventually we will adapt".

Although the effects of automation have so far been negligible on a global scale, the World Bank report shows that employment in the industrial sector has fallen by more than 10 percentage points in the last two decades in countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Singapore, as employees migrated from jobs in the manufacturing sector to those in the services sector. At the same time, however, employment in the industrial sector has increased in some developing countries, such as Vietnam, where it rose from 9% in 1991 to 25% in 2017. In the future, workers are more likely to have more jobs throughout their professional careers, largely thanks to the expansion of the informal economy, "gig economy", than to hold a single position with a single employer for several decades. In addition, a different set of skills will become increasingly important. Instead of less advanced skills that can be replaced by technology, employers will begin to be interested in hiring people with advanced cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, and communication and argumentation skills.

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