EmTech Next talk

When robots are your colleagues, which human skills will still matter?

A conference at MIT about discussing future of jobs and automation/ AI. The discussion seems to be more from the economic point of view and not all of the speakers are critical about the topic, but rather presenting what is possible… The talks are available from streaming and I found the following two talks interesting related to the project concept.

Work of the Past, Work of the Future by David Autor
In this talk, Autor analysis the shifts in work types (low skill/ middle skill/ high skill) and the level of education and the location of the jobs (city – rural area) throughout the 1970s to current. What he points out is that the middle skill jobs are diminishing, which he predicts due to the supporting tools/technology that it is now considered as low skill jobs. Also he observes not highly educated people could go to cities and obtain middle skill jobs in 70s, but currently this trend is not there anymore. In another words, if you are not educated, even going to the cities will not get higher pay jobs now. He emphasis the importance of education/training in order to not to fall into lower skill/ lower income jobs. The skills levels in his terms are such that
– Lower skilled jobs: requires no training or short training, manual labor, service provider, cleaners..
– Middle skilled jobs: requires some amount of training, many production jobs are in this category as well as office workers, administrators, sales personnel.
-Highly skilled jobs: requires long training/ higher degree education, management jobs, research and innovation, professionals

He explains that the health-care and service jobs are lower paid job even they require higher dexterity and human skills due to larger pool of people who can perform this jobs.
Middle skilled jobs that require certain levels of education currently, both in production works and office works are increasingly using technological tools resulting not to require these skills anymore. In another words anyone can do these jobs or gets completely automated.
He also points out the highly paid high skilled jobs are concentrated on cities, and the population of the big cities are changing. Less people have kids, and if they do so in later stage of their life. In outer city area, there are less change in the jobs, but the population is getting older and may need more care-jobs. If you are highly educated, there are a lot of careers, but if the educational levels are lower than collage, there are a lot of “jobs” but not careers.

The Future of Good Jobs by Paul Osterman

In his talk, he first look at which age groups are occupying what kind of jobs and what will happen when these people retire from work. he predicts there will be a lot of middle skilled jobs opening due to the retirement even though a lot of these jobs are discussed to be replaced by automation.

he lists the types of jobs in his term as:
middle skilled jobs
health care technicians
office and administrative
installation, maintenance and repair
transportation and moving

low skilled jobs
food and beverage preparation and service
health care support
personal services
retail clerks and cashiers
cleaning, housekeeping,maids
security guards

His arguments are not that we do not have middle skilled jobs that are accessible to many people in future, but there will be a lot of low paid jobs that does not reach poverty line income even one worked full-time. He asks how we can make those low wage jobs go away? He proposes that not all the industry will improve the low wage job conditions, but there are some sectors that has potential: health care sector. He argues changes in regulations and restructuring the team practice may lead the health care personnel to be a better wage jobs in future, given that there will be much more demand in future.
Other strong argument he makes is to provide chance of training to people of lower skills so they can enter the middle skilled job market. He points out community collage in US as a good model for providing these trainings.

some notes and thoughts