The recent wave of innovation and technological change has sparked a lively debate on the future of work. Some believe that technological innovations will destroy jobs on a massive scale, forecasting a jobless future. Others are confident that forces will be mobilized that create new jobs and even a golden age of quality job creation. This optimism is supported by historical experience which demonstrates that initial phases of job destruction were eventually followed by strong job creation. One of the central issues is, then, whether the current wave of technological change will once more generate a sustained process of jobs creation. Another one is how policies can support this process to meet aspirations of societies.
Could a robot replace your job? Fears about technology’s impact on the labour market are nothing new. Way back before the International Labour Organization (ILO) came into being in 1919, the Luddites were one group of early-19th century English workers who destroyed the labour-saving textile machines which were replacing their jobs.
The anxiety that machines could kill millions of jobs in our globalized workplaces is real – and it comes at a time when the world economy is already facing a major employment crisis. The jobs gap in G20 countries stands at about 54 million and could expand to over 60 million by 2018 unless current growth trends improve.