Automation, robotics, innovation: some believe that we will live in a world where machines will work instead of men, causing redundancies and unemployment, a world where there will be no more room for creativity and human skills, a world where man will be replaced by machines. But will this actually happen?
Some people argue that unemployment and innovation go hand in hand, while others think that the two factors are not connected and that the economy, when relaunched, will produce an increasing number of jobs. It is difficult to tell what will happen in the next few years; quite surely, we will have to reinvent the labour world, education, training, our personal predisposition to change.
This theory can be found in “The Second Machine Age“, a book by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson published in Italy by Feltrinelli, which explains how technology is the driver of labour transformation rather than a destructive force. The two authors argue that the time has come for a new revolution which will not mechanise manual work this time, rather mental work. Technology does not cancel work, though it surely changes its logics. Those who will be able to take risks and nurture their creativity will emerge as winners, developing new skills and making the most of knowledge without being crushed by innovation.
This is what is claimed by the World Economic Forum report called “The Future of Jobs“: in the next 5 years, technological and demographic factors will deeply change the evolution of the labour market. If, on the one hand, jobs will inevitably disappear, on the other hand these will be partly recovered and made up for by new professional figures. Indeed, the skills required are changing; according to the report, problem solving, creative thinking and creativity will be the skills that will make the difference.
What we currently view as “future”, will become a reality for future generations. So it is on the young generations that we need to focus to ensure that this revolution is accepted, exploited in the right way and not feared. We need to focus on education and training: schools, universities and think-tanks should be the first centres to become aware of this epochal change and train the professionals of the future. The creativity of new generations should be nurtured: such creativity will be able to build new machines and will also be the key to define new professional skills that will be necessary to the machines themselves rather than replaceable thereby. According to the WEF report, enterprises believe that it is essential for the successful management of the long-term dynamics of the labour market to invest in skills rather than hire long-term workers or teleworkers. Man and machine are two elements that liaise with each other, communicate and work together, rather than two competing forces. Two parallel lines rather than two trains going in opposite directions.