How will technology change the way we work? We recently published a debate looking at the mobile app economy in Europe, in the run-up to an event we co-hosted in Brussels with Google on mobile innovation. Some of our readers were very optimistic, arguing that new technology would make us more productive, boost economic growth, and lead to more jobs. However, we also had more cautious comments, such as from Marcel, who was worried technology would be disruptive, abolishing traditional manufacturing jobs and replacing them with a smaller number of highly-skilled positions.

Technology has radically changed the labour market over the last 50 years. Jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago are now common (particularly those related to the digital economy), while many traditional manufacturing jobs have essentially disappeared (either moving overseas, or being automated). So, how can we better train people to adapt to a changing workplace? What changes are coming down the pipeline, and what will the workplace look like in the coming decades?

Want to learn more about the impact of technology on the labour market? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):

We had a comment from Tarquin, who believes that the digital economy will provide a boost in the short-to-medium term, but eventually there will be a trend towards fewer and fewer jobs done by people with higher and higher skills? If so, won’t technology eventually put us all out of the job?

To get a response, we went to the event in Brussels on mobile innovation and put Tarquin’s comment to Sunmin Kim, Technology Editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit. What would she say?

For another perspective, we put the same question to James Waterworth, Vice-President (Europe) of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). Would he be able to reassure Tarquin?

What will the future of work look like? Will technology eventually put us all out of the job? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Nan Palmero

27 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    More highly-skilled jobs.
    More human-interaction jobs.
    Very few unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.
    Less ‘days’ work per week.
    Less ‘hours’ work per day.

  2. avatar
    Katrin Mpakirtzi

    Work or science and progrees as europe always did in the hole history?Values Ideas Academics. Work money banks and depths.in an atomic world cant create happy societies

  3. avatar
    John Lamprogiannis

    The renationalisation of economies is the only counterweight to globalization, which is the new universal type of hegemony in the world! The development of globalization is based on three factors: the role of human immigration, international trade, and rapid movements of capital and the integration of financial markets and it does not solve the problem of poverty, on the contrary it magnifies it! The increased international mobility of goods, money, information and people, and the development of technology, organizations, legal systems and infrastructure are directed towards the ruling states !

  4. avatar
    David Taylor

    Everytime new technology comes along people lose their jobs and the company owners get richer. Examples aplenty in the agriculture and motor industry with all these crazy computerised robots and machines

    • avatar
      Michael Šimková

      Yeah, and in publishing too, with all these newfangled computers, social networks and internet connections. Down with that sort of thing. Bring back jobs for scriveners, we were all happier back then. All of us. Used to be a single scrivener could support a whole family, nowadays people just write things whenever they like as if it were nothing. World literacy is a globalist conspiracy that has ruined the planet.

    • avatar

      Michael, you seem to have a very confused outlook. For a start, most scriveners belonged to the church, didn’t actually get paid and weren’t supposed to have a family. Secondly, you can’t compare literacy being taught to the masses which increased productivity of society with robots doing all mining and manufacturing jobs and a computer doing all telesales, customer care, order placement, production scheduling, stock brokering, airplane flying, bus driving and so on and so forth. These technologies either already exist or will very soon. There will be very little use for humans to work at all soon and the population will be even bigger by then.

  5. avatar
    Ainhoa Lizar

    If we have robots to do the work and we lose our jobs than we don´t need millions of migrants.

    • avatar
      Inaam HS

      And the billions of pounds stolen from the 3rd countries is because of this immigration policy which provides safe heaven to stolen assets in the off shore. Stop protecting corrupted wealth and there wouldn’t be immigrants.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I think you will find there is plenty of stolen assets and corrupted wealth being held within the countries the immigrants are leaving behind

    • avatar
      Cosmin Ghidoveanu

      Inaam HS Yeah man, that money I stole from those Syrians helped pay for my laptop. Oh wait… Did I steal it from the Syrians or the Palestinians? I’ve done it so many times I get it mixed up.

  6. avatar
    Kevin Owen

    That is whete needs to be a total rethink on what wealth , awuisition and retention means. Does a society merely exist to be exploited for self gain?
    If the majority are not needed for the economic prosces then what? Do you get rid of the massesx or do you find a method of redistribution in the absence of exchange of labour. Marxists claim they have the solution, but they could not stick together even with Superglue on any single issue. Some form of Socialism is logical, but since when are humans logical. Therefore more, poverty, more conflict and more mass exodus of desperate people.

    • avatar
      Emybel Diaz

      La redistribución del trabajo,en una sociedad del ocio,seria la única solución… Pero los oligopolios solo ven las soluciones cortoplacistas…y ese no creo que sea la mejor solución!!!

  7. avatar
    Leina Mestrovic

    If we are let alone to create our peer to peer economy based on the same technology we won’t have problems; we would live better than before – it is not technology creating the problem but main stream economic setup. We have all models available to thrive if you look up concept of digital social innovation – it is all about caring and sharing. The same big business that won’t need our labour (why would they – it is leggitate to organise your private business) are putting pressure on policy makers to kill off caring and sharing models because they would suffer economic lost in the near future, as we didn’t die off like consumers – yet:)

  8. avatar
    Lescanne Lucien

    This Europe that make his propaganda and install censorship on PressTV and RT !
    This europe is going to die sooner is better !
    Revolution, install direct democracy and confiscate the banks

  9. avatar
    Siva Nesan Jesu

    Technology makes man more and more many sighted maker and measurer of countless things. He needs to always similarly develop reason and rationality to share work, benfits, leisure, and comfort equitably. God and religions failed in this.

  10. avatar
    Ainhoa Lizar

    Then why is the EU importing millions of “hard working migrants” if technology is taking over?

    • avatar

      Because people are a robot to corporations. Importing cheaper labour from abroad is no different to companies than importing cheaper coal, cheaper steel, cheaper machines. It saves them money so they can make more profits which enhances their own personal lives so why should they care about the fact it destroys local peoples lives. At the moment, cheaper labour is an affordable alternative to full automation, but at the rate of change this won’t stay the case for very long. Soon the only advantage humans will have over machinery and computers in the job market is adaptability. Our bodies can do a multitude of varied tasks, whereas machines are generally purpose built to do one task. At the moment computers cannot innovate or perform high level problem solving. The human brain can. So in the short term companies want cheaper labour, soon they will only want automation. This will mean peoples portion of the job market will drop to design and concept, marketing and maintenance jobs, I guess public or social jobs will still be done by people too, such as being a judge. And when someone comes up with a significant improvement in both computing power and robotics that will mean companies won’t want human labour at all. When that happens though, companies will have lost their end of line consumers as hardly anyone will have money to purchase their products. Ultimately resulting in billions of people with no income, no property, no ability to improve their situation (what good is a law degree when everyone has a law degree? It’s not how to stay competitive) and you’ll have those that own land and companies that have all the wealth, can afford to drive (or whatever form of transport is the latest thing) go travelling enjoy the benefits of the world’s culture and bribe their children into having the best chance of having the same happy lifestyle. In short, it will be as equal as slaves and slave owners, only worse in fact as the slaves wouldn’t be needed.
      Sorry if this upsets you, but it’s the truth. Capitalism only works when the money is circulating through society freely. It hasn’t been doing that and this is ultimately why people are discontented with the status quo and voting for trump and so on.

  11. avatar
    catherine benning

    What will the future of work look like?

    Complete zombie take over.

  12. avatar

    More self driving car and you can use your brain to play with technology.

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