Many reports have come out this week showing how many skilled jobs will disappear in the future because of technology, robotics and other new ways to work more productively. It is true. New technologies and progress are changing the work environment and many positions and jobs that exist today could rapidly become obsolete in the future.
If we take a step back and look throughout History, we see that this is a completely normal cycle. What scares people the most today is that the pace of these changes are accelerating while years ago those changes would take decades to become real. The truth is that every major industrial or economic revolutions created big and sometimes chaotic shifts in the working landscape. Still, the question should not be so much if we should be afraid of these changes, they are inevitable, but how to best deal with them.
In general and to balance the loss of former jobs, every major shifts come also with new emerging industries. It’s the cycle of life. In the 18th century for example, many people worked in the primary sector (or agriculture). In today’s world, the tertiary sector (or services) in the one which has the most number of workers. With the accelerating changes due to automation and other technologies, new sectors will appear to provide new opportunities for skilled workers to land new jobs. The issue is that is it always hard to foresee the future and understand which one of these industries will become new engine for economic growth.
Today, we already live to a certain extent similar situations. People working in technology know how hard it is to find qualified engineers for specific positions. The number of specialized doctors is rapidly decreasing in many parts of the world. Many jobs remain open for longer period of time because of the lack of good candidates.
What needs to happen is for us to try to better forecast the demand of these future industries and prepare the next generation in terms of education and skills. The world changes and there is not much we can do about it. Instead of being fearful about these changes, we should embrace them and prepare ourselves for the new economy as the technology revolution is already in full speed mode.