Technology / Why the future robotic workforce should be working alongside humans, not replacing them

Why the future robotic workforce should be working alongside humans, not replacing them

The skills needed to undertake successful projects in the workplace are likely to be a lot different by 2030, as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and robots change the way we work, according to a new report.

The report, undertaken by Pearson, Nesta and the Oxford Martin School and entitled The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, found that one in five workers were in occupations that face a high likelihood of decline and only one in 10 people were highly likely to experience a rise in demand for their skills.

Related article: UK manufacturing: a digital future

Hasan Bakhshi, executive director of creative economy and data analytics at Nesta, said: ”While there is no shortage of research assessing the impacts of automation on individual occupations, there is far less that focuses on skills, and even less so that has actionable insights for stakeholders in areas like job redesign and learning priorities. The future of work for most people is not inevitable.”

In the UK, the occupations forecast to most likely experience a rise in employment were associated with education, healthcare and wider public-sector occupations. Creative, digital, design, and engineering occupations were also found to have bright outlooks, with architecture and green occupations to benefit from greater urbanisation and the need to build a more sustainable environment.

However, a decline in employment was forecast in occupations related to transport and traditional manufacturing. The report found that projects being managed in manufacturing production were turning towards technology to improve productivity and were predicted to see a fall in workforce share.

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggests. It is not going to be human versus machine, but rather human and machine” – John Fallon, Pearson

Philippe Schneider, researcher and co-author of the report, said: “Jobs are the cornerstone of our social and economic lives. Today many are concerned that jobs face a period of sustained disruption – not only as a result of automation but also globalisation, demographic and environmental change and political uncertainty.

“Thinking systematically about these trends cannot give conclusive answers on what is around the corner, but it can provide clues and challenge imaginations as we design policies to improve the adaptability and employability of our workforces.”

The study showed strong social skills would be the key to success as demand for soft skills unique to humans rose. These included social perceptiveness, active learning, active listening, judgment, and decision making.

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In addition, cognitive skills such as fluency of ideas, originality, and oral expression were forecast to increase in demand – whereas physical abilities, such as stamina and depth perception, were forecast to decline as technology takes over.

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggests – it is not going to be human versus machine, but rather human and machine,” said John Fallon, CEO of Pearson. “It is clear that technology is changing the global economy and labour markets, but we still retain the ability to control our destiny. We must re-evaluate the skills people will need for a digital future, and update our education systems to ensure teachers have the right tools to help students succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.”

This article was published in our Business Reporter Online: Robots vs Humans.
Read the full issue online now!