Fewer Newer Jobs

What is the future of work? Throughout the world, there is concern that millions of jobs are soon to be automated out of existence. The desk worker, factory-floor worker, researcher, accountant, lawyer – and many more types of people beavering away – may well be replaced by self-service kiosks, robots, software and algorithms.

Probably, and significantly, fewer newer jobs will emerge to replace the older jobs that are disappearing.

So what will be the emerging and increasingly dominant forms of work? Social theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue that they will be in occupations that place people and the production of social relationships at their heart. Effective networking by such people will be key.

And what might governments do to alleviate the problems? Political commentator Phil Burton-Cartledge points to the introduction of a basic income payable to all citizens, which would give people independence from work as a means of making a living – and give them more freedom to take risks, such as starting a new business. Alternatively, the benefits of automation could be shared by reducing the working week – thus giving people greater opportunity, for example, to develop positive, meaningful, community-based away-from-formal-work activities.

Contributed by Dave Hornblow, March 2017

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