3.1 Employment Risks of Automation – Germano Paini


Lesson 3.1 Employment risk of Automation The introduction of high-tech equipment
in enterprises without the framework of a strategic plan tied to the digital
transformation and without support for the development of the skills and know-how needed for its use risk that the equipments are destined to become
obsolete and unutilized in the near term. Before sitting down to plan of
interventions and to identify the technologies to be adopted,
we should have to examine the transformations unfolding around us. That
examination should start with how society and consumer demand is changing
and what goods and services need to be produce, along with their specific
characteristics. What is missing today is a new policy making
approach able to build a strategic “digital” vision on the basis of which to
plan analyses and concrete interventions, and offering an understanding of the
“digital” in paradigmatic terms as the revelatory key to the fourth Industrial Revolution. Rising to the challenges that the Industrial
Revolution poses calls for special attention to be focused on a digital
transition plan and its impact on society and people, with emphasis first
and foremost on understanding its role and technologies connected to it. Framing
the fourth Industrial Revolution as a comprehensive phenomenon and not merely as a company restructuring process will enable to
understand the real characteristics of the transformation underway. The fourth
revolution involve the digital transformation of society as a whole and
its concrete impacts on how people and markets for goods and services behave. Society in its entirety is swept with
phenomena of radical transformation, triggered by the pervasive interaction
between technology and social action. Interaction between technology
and social action not have to be read in terms of technicist determinism, but
instead – without underestimating the reciprocal conditioning at play – has to see technological opportunities affect social processes, creating fractures and
impacts of major import. For our purposes, the most significant elements of the
transition process underway can be identified in the implications of the
digital transformation of society on individuals. Every revolution sweeps all
and sundry in its path, systematically leading to bombastic declarations on the
effects wrought on the social system in describing the phase under analysis. The
digital revolution is impacting people directly, positing them in a radically
different position compared to past historical periods. Having moved from
being simple consumers of digital services to “prosumers” that both use and
produce at the same time the content generated, today each and every one of us
has taken on a significant part of the production of the value generated in our
society. We produce enormous amount of data and documents that have become the most rich precious commodities of our society. Doing it, we work much more than
what a simplistic reading of the impact of the digital on work would suggest. The
most widespread level of analysis tends to focus on concerns over the risk relating
to the impact of the automation of production activities on jobs and
employment levels. Automation has long been an essential driver for enterprises,
representing one of the key levers available to them to compete
efficiently at the national and international levels, while raising the
capacity and quality of production. In each of the industrial revolutions that
had shaped economic and social development, automation has brought
drastic change and conflicting pressures on jobs. The forecast, at the present
state, are based on a few reliable elements. Once again, uncertainty runs high and
is aggravated by the lack of in-depth studies on the comprehensive impact of
technology on how we live and interact. While, at the same time,
we don’t know forecast the net balance between the destructive effect of
technology on current jobs and the generative effects on new jobs which
some analysts predict especially in the services sector. International studies on the issue have
produced forecasts most catastrophic scenario which alarmingly predicts that 47 percent of workers will lose their jobs over the next 20 years due to automation.
Other studies sustain, on the one hand, that the real risk of job losses in OECD
countries from automation is equal at 14 percent. On the other hand, they prospect
that a substantial transformation of work forthcoming years will affect 32
percent of jobs, requiring investments in up skilling based on continuous
development of skills.

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