A report outlines the changing nature of labor and how employers and employees must prepare for the future as job automation technology replaces manual labor.

A new report from the World Economic Forum titled “The Future of Jobs Report 2018” predicted that 75 million labor positions will be lost to job automation in the next seven years but offered hope that 133 million new roles will be added.

The report underscored the changing nature of work and the need for companies to prepare workers to handle new roles.

Job Automation, Another Industrial Revolution is Coming

The 147-page report revealed that over half of all labor tasks, translating to 52 percent of all jobs, will be taken over by automated machines by 2025. As at today, 29 percent of all work is handled by automated machines.

Klaus Schwab, executive chairman and founder of the Geneva-based non-profit, urged employers to begin educating and training their employees on the coming industrial revolution. He said the ability of humans to work with and adapt to new job automation technology can create economic prosperity, societal progress and individual growth among other enormous opportunities.

The authors of the report interviewed major employers who combined employ 15 million people around the world. The researchers disclosed that job executives and other stakeholders must embrace emerging technologies and train their staff in readiness for the coming human-machine changes.

The researchers cautioned that the coming job automation takeover does not mean that humanoid robots will be in charge of work. Companies will however continue to invest in related technologies such as drones and stationary robots.

Automation To Replace Manual Labor but Could Free up Human Potential

Nearly half of the employers expected job automation to reduce their workforce by 2022, but 40 percent also saw an opportunity for increased productivity and over 25 percent saw more jobs being created.

Although the report made it clear that 75 million jobs could be lost to machines by 2025, it added the situation could add 133 million new job roles. Four technologies, in particular, will greatly influence the future of work – “ubiquitous” mobile internet, cloud technology, big data analytics and artificial intelligence.

The report further clarified that often only particular job tasks are affected by automation, and not entire job descriptions. Thus, job automation could free workers of the “need to perform routinized, repetitive tasks and better … use their distinctively human talents.”

Human skills such as critical thinking, negotiation and creativity will be in more demand, so workers are encouraged to get ready by “reskilling” and “upskilling” themselves. Entrepreneurs, business managers and governments are urged to retrain employees so as to make them proactive and prepared for a changing workplace.

“Catalysing positive outcomes and a future of good work for all will require bold leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit from businesses and governments,” Schwab wrote, “as well as an agile mindset of lifelong learning from employees.”

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