Jobs for Work 4.0 – The Future of Employment

Digitization is increasingly shaping the world of work. Algorithms for big data are now rapidly entering domains reliant upon pattern recognition and can readily substitute for labour in a wide range of non-routine cognitive tasks. Advanced robots are gaining enhanced senses and dexterity, allowing them to perform a broader scope of manual tasks. This is likely to change the nature of work across industries and occupations.

Click here for the the project’s website: work40.dsi.uminho.pt

A recent study (The Future Of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs To Computerisation, Oxford 2013) estimated the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, and examined expected impacts of future computerisation. According to their estimate, 47 % of total employment is in the high risk category.

This means that most workers in transportation, logistics and in production are likely to be substituted by computers. As industrial robots in production occupations are becoming more advanced, with enhanced senses and dexterity, they will be able to perform a wider scope of non-routine manual tasks. The vast remainder of employment in production occupations is thus likely to diminish over the next decades.

The second endangered group concerns a many office support professions. Here, algorithms for big data are already rapidly entering domains that deal with storing or accessing information, making it probable that office and administrative support occupations will be subject to computerisation. For example, legal assistants will be substituted by computers.

More surprising, at first sight, is that also many jobs in services and sales will also become victims of computerisation. These findings are largely in line with recent documented technological developments including interactive tasks. These professions will also be subject to a wave of computerisation in the near future. They include, for example, cashiers, counter and rental clerks, or telemarketers.

Surprisingly, the impact of this development seems to be still quite low. While it is common knowledge that unskilled or low-skilled citizens face higher risk of unemployment, almost no one seems to notice that during the next decade, also tax consultants, bank clerks, estate agents, travel agents, finance advisers (and tax office employees), referees, and many more formerly “safe” professions will undergo computerisation.

Therefore, the overall objective of our project is to raise awareness about these developments, first and foremost among those professional who are working in the employment services. Our aim is to inform people working in the labour market service, but also in vocational orientation and education about these challenges, and to understand the astonishing pace at which digitization and the “Internet of Things” will foster significant changes and create entirely new job families while others will become obsolete.

In order to reach this objective, the specific objectives are

• to produce Awareness Raising Guidelines and a Resource Pack that will inform and raise the awareness among people working in the employment sector, in vocational education and in job orientation professions about the most recent technological changes and their impact on future employment. The products will demonstrate which jobs are susceptible to computerisation and inform about the expected impacts of future computerisation on the labour market. Another important aspect will show how negative effects can be mitigated by vocational orientation and education.

• to present all materials at an e-platform that will allow, in real time machine translation, exchange of experience and interaction between labour market advisers and experts as well as VET institutions and trainers

• to adapt and modify selected online platform materials into integrated applications for smartphones