The bad news is that for half of us, yes, robots could take over our jobs. Eleisha McNeill talks to Dr Jo Cribb about why you need to get ready.
Technology is changing our jobs so quickly, we need to think about an action plan for it now, says Dr Jo Cribb, co-author of Don’t Worry About the Robots: How to survive and thrive in the new world of work.
“In the past, when there’s been changes to technology, they’ve been linear. With steam engines, for example, we got one technology that completely changed things,” says Dr Cribb.
“But now, change is happening in every industry – nanotechnology, automation, robotics – every field is moving, fired by increasing computer power, and we’ve not really seen that happen before.
Change is accelerating
“It’s not a linear change this time; it’s happening fast, and we can’t ignore it.”
Dr Cribb is the former deputy Children’s Commissioner, and was chief executive of the Ministry for Women. Her new book with David Glover has just been released.
“We often think technology is just happening in Silicon Valley – it’s not. It’s part of our lives now and it doesn’t have to be scary, but we all need to understand it because it’ll impact on us all,” she says.
Expect more disruption
Advances in technology have often changed or removed the need for some jobs to be performed by humans. But the next few decades are predicted to bring the biggest disruption to employment in human history.
Here are a few of the predictions:
· Almost half of all jobs are at risk of being automated by 2035, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s Disruptive Technologies report predicted in in 2015. The report says rural New Zealand would be hit hardest.
· Forty-seven per cent of total United States employment is at risk because of digital technology, say Oxford University academics.
· Current trends in technology could lead to the loss of 5.1 million jobs between 2015 and 2020, the World Economic Forum predicted in 2016.
Repetitive jobs will go first
“The main prediction is if you’re in a job or an industry where the work is repetitive over a cycle, it’ll be fairly easy to automate,” Dr Cribb says.
“In our research, we found a report saying 8-10 per cent of jobs could be totally automated now, but another 60-70 per cent of jobs could be partly automated. That’s a huge number. And you can already see advances in partial automation with the software packages for accounting.”
Dr Cribb says the skills employers are now looking for have changed. A study of job ads from 2012-15 tracked what companies were looking for and what they were asking people to do.
“Employers were looking for less technical knowledge, assuming that people would learn that on the job,” she says.
“The skills they were after were around critical analysis, problem-solving, the ability to self-manage, and the ability to learn and to unlearn. Communication skills were key, and the ability to work in a team.”
What you can do
Here's Dr Cribb’s advice on how to prepare yourself for the coming work revolution.
· Don’t bury your head in the sand. Recognise the future is here and change is happening. In order to thrive, you need to engage with it.
· Educate yourself on changing technology, and work out how you want to respond to it.
· Take time to understand: What you really want, what you enjoy, the skills you want to be using in 10 years. Put a plan around those things.
· Engage in the conversations around technology.
“Technology is neutral – it’s just somebody programming something – it’s what we decide to do with the technology, how we apply it and where we apply it, and that’s a choice,” says Dr Cribb.
“Companies and governments will be making those decisions. The point of the book is to make individuals go, hey, people are making choices around me that may impact on me, and I need to get ahead and understand that.”
Don’t Worry About the Robots: How to survive and thrive in the new world of work is available at all good book sellers.
First published 19 July, 2018
Story by Eleisha McNeill
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