When we talk labour in the digital era, it’s either about destroying jobs or creating jobs. Digital empowers the labour market, but also has a lot of challenges for the same market. If we look back at the past (industrial) revolutions, we always see the same thing happening. A revolution destroys a lot of jobs, look at how the primary sector evolved over the past decade, but creates a lot of new opportunities on the other hand, the growth of the secondary sector (in this case).
Since the 80-ies we seen a decline in the industrial sector in favor of the tertiary – service – sector….what will be the next switch? Digital technology and evolution has an impact on all sectors and is (apparently) replacing human jobs for digital ones. Cost efficiency, and for a better service! Look at how our bank service is hyper personalized, look at how our shopping habits have changed, … all thanks to digital. Steven Van Belleghem writes about this evolution in his book “When digital becomes human” declaring that in the end each company who can enhance its digital environment with a human value will be a winner in the digital era. Humans still add over 6% off value to a digital process! Let’s embrace that idea, but the additional value must be delivered through high level output, where a human still can make a difference. Let’s be honest, humans don’t make a difference anymore in 80% of the traditional value creating. Thanks to (big) data a computer (of connected – digital – device) knows a lot more about you and is able to service you on a more personal base than most humans can. Robots will take over customer service, computers will assist you with your shopping, real time data will assist your self driving car getting you everywhere …. Digital will be our first touch point delivering the value. So what will happen than with human value and labour!
Human labour is still needed. Computers, robots, cars, digital devices… still need maintenance, need to be constructed, need to be developed. This will only be a small part of our actual labour force! What will happen with all the others? Within 10 years we will see new jobs popping up, jobs we didn’t think of today, or jobs we are not educating for! One thing, I’m quite sure of, is that these jobs will all be about personal contact and delivering personal value. A personal twist that is hard for a digital device to deliver (even in augmented or virtual mode)….like Cool Blue it’s strategy to put a smile on every customers face!
What these job descriptions look like, I can’t tell nor describe since they are all new. For youngsters or today’s workers future competences will all be about being creative, innovative and flexible, and less about knowledge! Adapting yourself to the present situation each 5 to 10 years will be the most rewarding attitude/competence for each and everyone. Today’s educational and training programs should be adapted in that way that people are being trained (educated) to deal with uncertainty! Those who deal with uncertainty the best, will be the winners of the labour market in the (near) future.