Here’s a worst-case scenario: Instead of a techno-paradise, the rise of automation will create an economic bloodsport, a future economy where few companies offer secure jobs as skilled independent contractors scramble over one another for good jobs.
That’s one conclusion you could draw from “Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce”, a report from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization which attempts to predict the future of Australian employment over the next two decades.
Roughly 40 percent of the country’s workforce will likely be replaced by silicon labor over that same period, according to a 2015 report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. And unskilled workers could find themselves facing long-term unemployment.
“Despite the great many benefits of new technologies, we desperately want to avoid the slide to a labour market platform that forces workers to bid against each other for parcels of work in some kind of brutal, reverse eBay-style auction,” Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Olive told The Guardian. “The challenge for all of us — unions, employers, regulators and governments — is to harness the technological opportunities and make them work for, rather than against, worker’s best interests.”
We pulled out these more interesting points from the report:
- With low-skilled jobs automated or outsourced, there will be a higher bar for even entry level positions in many fields, with 75 percent of growing occupations requiring expertise in science, tech, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
- Even though they’ll likely need experience in STEM subjects for a living wage, Australian youth have little interest in the subjects. American students are hardly better.
- Another thing we’ll soon share with Australians — participation in the gig economy. The report notes that a third of American workers are classified as independent contractors and the trend will catch on in Australia with freelancers working on peer-to-peer platforms. The report does not note whether these independent contractors might actually just be employees without benefits, a misclassification many U.S. companies have taken advantage of in the years since the Great Recession.
Hope you can afford to live there.