At the same time, cog­ni­tive skills, soft skills and cre­ativ­ity will gain more promi­nence.

Bulletin - - Jobs Of The Future - Photo: Nick Agro Manuel Ry­bach is the Global Head of Public Af­fairs and Pol­icy at Credit Suisse.

In Ja­pan, many peo­ple em­brace new tech­nolo­gies, such as ro­bots, and per­ceive them as prob­lem solvers – why are peo­ple in many other coun­tries rather skep­ti­cal?

Un­der­stand­ably, work­ers are afraid of los­ing their jobs and govern­ment and the so­cial part­ners are look­ing for ideas to cre­ate a safety net for peo­ple who will lose jobs to au­to­ma­tion. An­other is­sue here is to what ex­tent ro­bots can re­place care work­ers in hos­pi­tals, old peo­ple’s homes, etc. But I am sure that we can find a bal­ance here: re­liev­ing care work­ers from the most ar­du­ous tasks may al­low more time for hu­man com­pas­sion in these in­sti­tu­tions. Coun­tries like Ja­pan and Ger­many have ag­ing so­ci­eties: the dwin­dling num­bers of new en­trants on the la­bor mar­ket calls for in­no­va­tive solutions, in­clud­ing ro­bots re­plac­ing hu­man be­ings.

You like to em­pha­size that tech­nol­ogy is nei­ther good nor bad but needs to be man­aged. How?

The dig­i­tal econ­omy must be a sus­tain­able one and it must be built on de­cent work which gives hu­mans dig­nity. The question here is how we can keep the hu­man di­men­sion in a world of work run more and more by ro­bots. Glob­ally, one third of em­ploy­ers sur­veyed com­plain of not be­ing able to find the right skill sets to fill ex­ist­ing va­can­cies. There is the sim­ple truth that the ma­chines were and con­tinue to be built by hu­man brain and brawn. We need to an­tic­i­pate up­com­ing tech­no­log­i­cal changes and tackle the ed­u­ca­tion and skills mis­match in la­bor mar­kets. Ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion and skills for coun­tries at all de­vel­op­ment lev­els in­crease their abil­ity to in­no­vate and adopt new tech­nolo­gies. It means the dif­fer­ence be­tween growth that leaves large seg­ments of so­ci­ety be­hind and in­clu­sive growth with a well-trained work­force will­ing to learn.

While in past in­dus­trial revo­lu­tions mostly blue-col­lar work­ers were af­fected, the cur­rent au­tom­a­ti­za­tion rev­o­lu­tion af­fects es­pe­cially white-col­lar work­ers. What are the po­lit­i­cal and so­ci­etal im­pli­ca­tions?

In con­trast with pre­vi­ous dis­rup­tions, these in­clude white-col­lar as well as blue-col­lar jobs. As some of the defin­ing tasks of jobs are au­to­mated, cer­tain jobs, such as those re­quir­ing re­peated ac­tions, will be lost. Work that is dif­fi­cult to automate will gain more promi­nence for hu­man la­bor, for ex­am­ple, com­plex tasks re­ly­ing on high-level cog­ni­tive skills, soft skills and cre­ativ­ity. Poli­cies in re­sponse to this trans­for­ma­tion should be guided by new em­pir­i­cal anal­y­sis. We have set up a Global Com­mis­sion on the Fu­ture of Work that is ex­pected to come up with rec­om­men­da­tions by early 2019. I do not want to an­tic­i­pate the lat­ter but guid­ing prin­ci­ples should be rights-based, con­sen­sual and founded on global sol­i­dar­ity and global gov­er­nance.

What poli­cies could help to over­come the pay gap be­tween men and women?

A smart mix of le­gal pro­vi­sions, fair work­place prac­tices and public aware­ness is cru­cial in tack­ling the gen­der pay gap. While the gen­der pay gap has nar­rowed in most coun­tries there is still a strik­ing vari­a­tion in women’s rel­a­tive pay, vary­ing from close to zero to up to 45 per­cent. Women’s greater in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion, as well as some shifts in cul­tural at­ti­tudes, have not re­moved ma­jor ob­sta­cles to progress, and the per­va­sive ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence that have come to light demon­strate how much progress re­mains to be done.

De­spite in­creas­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion, a lot of West­ern coun­tries show no in­crease in pro­duc­tiv­ity. Why is that?

One rea­son for slower pro­duc­tiv­ity growth is the long-term con­se­quences of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis that led to a sig­nif­i­cant re­struc­tur­ing of the bank­ing sec­tor with a tight­en­ing of lend­ing stan­dards and a de­crease in more risky in­vest­ments fol­low­ing stricter over­sight. In ad­di­tion, pro­duc­tiv­ity growth has also suf­fered from a de­cline in en­tre­pre­neur­ial ac­tiv­ity, partly as a re­sult of pop­u­la­tion ag­ing that lim­its the ap­petite of so­ci­eties for in­vest­ing in new, in­no­va­tive pro­cesses and prod­ucts. Fi­nally, tech­no­log­i­cal change of­ten has dif­fi­cul­ties in be­ing adopted by

a larger part of the econ­omy, widen­ing the gap be­tween lead­ing com­pa­nies and the rest. This has con­trib­uted to sti­fled com­pe­ti­tion, thereby fur­ther lim­it­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity growth.

Uni­ver­sal guar­an­teed in­come has been pro­posed as a re­sponse to the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion. You don’t think much of it.

The uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come de­bate is very in­ter­est­ing but we should be very con­scious that this is an ab­so­lutely era-chang­ing de­ci­sion: ad­mit­ting that we can’t do it through work any longer. Most of us come from tra­di­tions, from cul­tures, from be­lief pat­terns which ba­si­cally say we shall earn our liv­ing by the sweat of our brow or the strain on the brain. And the no­tion that that ba­sic foun­da­tion is re­placed by the fact that you just get an in­come for ex­ist­ing, I think is some­thing which is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for most peo­ple to get their head around. There is a mo­ral panic at­tached to it. We re­ally must not for­get the so­cial com­po­nent in our dis­cus­sion of the fu­ture of work. Freud called work the in­di­vid­ual’s con­nec­tion to re­al­ity. And it’s not a bad way of look­ing at things.

How will dig­i­ti­za­tion im­pact mi­gra­tion – when work be­comes more mo­bile and flex­i­ble?

Dig­i­ti­za­tion can im­pact mi­gra­tion in mul­ti­ple ways as it helps to iden­tify job open­ings in other coun­tries, in­creases trans­parency of re­cruit­ment prac­tices, and make mi­gra­tion safe, or­derly and reg­u­lar. Tech­nol­ogy can also make re­mit­tance chan­nels more ac­ces­si­ble to mi­grants. At the same time, tech­no­log­i­cal progress has also en­abled sig­nif­i­cant changes in em­ploy­ment, not only mak­ing skilled oc­cu­pa­tions more ac­ces­si­ble on a global scale, but also cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant job op­por­tu­ni­ties at home and hence a po­ten­tial al­ter­na­tive to mi­gra­tion. These trans­for­ma­tions could have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the fu­ture of work.

Karl Marx fore­saw a fully au­to­mated world with a large pro­le­tariat. In the long run, is Marx right?

The fu­ture of work is not de­cided for us in ad­vance. It is not, as Shake­speare said, “writ­ten in the stars.” It’s not go­ing to be de­ter­mined by tech­nol­ogy or glob­al­iza­tion. It is a fu­ture that we must make ac­cord­ing to the val­ues and the pref­er­ences that we choose as so­ci­eties and through the poli­cies that we de­sign and im­ple­ment.

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