Buzzwords such as industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, industrial automation, machine learning, etc. have been buzzing around in industries and across geographies for some time now. Advancements in technology have undoubtedly impacted the amount, the way and the conditions of all workplaces. While these technologies have been known for changing lives for good and making work processes simpler for us, prediction of loss of jobs due to human replacement is also expected. Though technology has brought the world closer, it has also increased the distance between unskilled labor and the availability of jobs for them. However, for those who think advancement of technology is only destroying jobs need to consider the fact that technology has simultaneously created new jobs for people who were keeping pace with it.
Technology intervention is inevitable in any sphere. Technology is giving birth to a variety of avenues of new scientific discoveries and developments. Some of these prominent technologies that are likely to bring disruption to the labour market include artificial intelligence, industrial automation, 3D printing, self-driven vehicles, and robotics.
Now the question is whether, with these constant developments in technology, employment opportunities will see an ever-increasing graph or will the labor market decrease drastically and will be replaced by machines, increasing unemployment.
Let’s take a look at the positive impact of technology over employment.
- It is widely suggested that workers will have greater employment opportunities, as long as they are able to keep pace with the new tools, if their occupation undergoes some degree of computer automation. Technological innovations result in improved lifestyles, and hence consumerism increases and thereby results in more employment opportunities. Let’s take the example of 3D printing technology- building houses by 3D printing is a great technological innovation. Eventually, it will result in some job losses in the construction industry at least during the initial phases. But this innovation will result in creating more affordable homes and hence more and more people may want to buy a house. Hence, with more consumers, more houses will be built and hence will create many jobs but of a different kind.
- The spurt of AI will reduce the burden of routine, mundane jobs on workers and increase productivity. Additionally, it allows humans to concentrate on more creative aspects, such as towards business innovation by reducing a number of repetitive tasks. With changes in technology, workers would need to learn some skills to stay employed. It’s just that these older professionals need to be provided constant training in using the latest tools. The government needs to take care of the reskilling of low-skilled workers in order to take advantage of the impact of technology on jobs. Significant changes are needed in the education sector as well. Currently, the syllabi across schools and colleges is based on the industrial age. A lot of focus is given to discipline and rote-learning, rather than experiential or practical knowledge.
- Technology makes the work process computerized which can reduce risk and error while improving performance and accuracy.
- Technological advancements have led to increased demand for technically skilled youth and hence more jobs available for educated youth. This can solve the problem of unemployment to some extent. Several newer jobs have already sprung up. Data scientists and digital marketers are in high demand now.
- Technology helps in accelerating growth of the economy. Companies that use technology become economically more feasible by replacing human labour with technological innovations and thereby they expand their services, thus creating more jobs. More employment will be created in the economy, and more revenue by taxes will come to the government. As a consequence of that, there will be economic growth that can be utilized by the government to create more employment opportunities with better pay.
- Technologies have the potential to create large scale jobs in rural areas and hence that helps address the rural unemployment issue. Till now, jobs with better pay are concentrated in urban areas.
- Faster communication, rapid transactions, global reach are all by-products of growth in technology.
However, just like the two sides of a coin, there are some negative impacts of technology as well.
- The immediate repercussion of innovation in technology will be job losses because some jobs will become redundant. For example, ATMs replacing bank jobs. Machines and automation are replacing most of the blue collar jobs creating fear of loss of a job. If any company does not replace human labour with technology, it is susceptible to losses due to heavy competition from other companies using technology. So, it is inevitable for companies to catch up with the technologies with human labor. In this process of shifting from labor to technology, low-skilled workers will be the first section to be removed from the jobs. This will prove to be particularly hard on an unskilled workforce which has no access to skill development training or to education, resulting in further widening of income inequalities.
- Not just the low-skilled, and semi-skilled jobs, even high-skilled jobs are at threat due to the new wave of technologies like AI which is removing the need for human workers altogether.
- At present, the gap in the careers of workers is worse than ever with changing and constantly improving technologies. These rapid advancements may force some women to stay at home after taking maternity leaves.
- Newer technologies are forcing people to continuously update their knowledge to sustain in the job market. The pace of technical advancement is so drastic that it is unable for workers to keep track of it, making it too overwhelming for some to balance work and personal life.
So, where do we go from here?
For those of you who are still unsure about if technology will replace jobs or not, then here might be the answer. Initially, the start of the industrial revolution was assumed as a negative impact of technology on unemployment that has swapped away the job of labor but, we can now say that advancement of technology in terms of automation is set to bring the same technological change that is destroying jobs for unskilled laborers and at the same time increasing the demand for skilled workers and expertise. This change can be dealt with a shift of people from unskilled to specially-skilled employees. These technological innovations will further enhance the growth of people, their employability, their pay scales, basic income and purchasing power of people, leading the world to higher stage of development and growth.