Labor Day and Tomorrow’s Workforce
In addition to backyard cook outs, Labor Day 2016 means the last day of 2017 SXSW PanelPicker voting (the polls close tonight at 11:59 pm Central Time). This end-of-summer holiday also provides a great opportunity to reflect on the radically changing nature of work in the 21st century world.
Yes, radical workplace changes are afoot. The robots are already here — and their presence will only increase in the short and medium-term future. This means more and more jobs will become more and more automated. And not just manufacturing jobs (where automation is hardly new). In the coming years, robots will become sophisticated enough to do many many tasks currently reserved for humans. One of the most striking examples of this development is the truck driving industry, where as many as 3.5 million Americans will be impacted as self-driving vehicles take over the nation’s highways.
So, are we facing workplace Armageddon? No. But to stay relevant, humans will need to get even better at doing what humans do. Now and increasingly in the future, non-linear thinking (an attribute that may always elude robots and / or AI-enabled devices) will become one of the most valued employee skill-sets. To this end, education will become an even more prized asset in tomorrow’s workplace — particularly a significantly evolved kind of education that is focused on problem-solving and creative innovation (as opposed to rote learning and brute training, which machines will very soon be able to do a lot better than we can).
To browse some more forward-thinking ideas (269 more, in fact) on labor redefined, visit the SXSW PanelPicker interface. More specifically, click on the “SXSW 2017” tab in the “Conference” pulldown of the interface (at the top right corner), then click on the “Workplace” tab in the “Track” pulldown.