Millions of jobs at stake in the ‘man versus machine’ fight
January 23 2016 11:59 PM
Prashanth


The global economy, which is struggling to keep pace with growth that is required to create adequate jobs has another cause of worry, if a report presented at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is anything to go by.
The report suggests that some 5mn jobs may disappear worldwide in the next five years as a result of changing working methods, which has been blamed on the so-called “4th industrial revolution”.
The jobs will be lost either to robots or automation because of a drastic change in the workplace that will be caused by artificial intelligence, according to a WEF study.
Robots will take over jobs that require more “narrow skills” such as administration or clerical work as employers start seeking new core skills such as “critical thinking, emotional reasoning and active listening”.
Developments in fields including robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence will change workplaces and the required different skills from workers in the years to come, according to the “WEF Future of Jobs” report.
Mobile Internet and cloud technology will make some jobs redundant, while big data analytics and the “Internet of Things” will  eliminate some workers in these roles, the research showed.
Not everyone will be impacted equally, with the report predicting that the jobs most at risk are either office or administrative roles.
The report estimates more than 7mn redundancies by 2021, mainly in management and administration, particularly in healthcare, construction and mining sectors.
But the report sees nearly 2.1mn new positions being created for computer programmers and engineers, and banking, accounting and insurance professionals, but this still leaves a substantial gap.
Apart from resulting in job redundancies, the rise of the robots or the ‘man versus machine fight’ as some put it; will affect gender equality at work.
Women have been seen more vulnerable to the job losses as a lesser number of them are at areas, which will generate new jobs such as engineering, architecture, IT, software development and analytics.
Over the next five years, while five women will lose their jobs, one woman will gain a job and when the same gets applied to men who are comparatively less vulnerable, they will see three jobs lost for every one gained.
The fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0 – involves the increasing use of robots, big data and artificial intelligence in all aspects of the economy.
The findings are based on a survey of some 371 global companies with more than 13mn employees in as many as 15 major developed and emerging economies.
Highlighting the report at the just concluded World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, WEF founder Klaus Schwab said, “Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with futureproof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base.”
Truly, governments around the world would have to formulate and implement policies that equip the swelling workforce to meet the changing working methods in different sectors and create job opportunities to as many young people as possible.

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