"The next 25 years will see job loss rates of up to 47%. No government is prepared.”
WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
THE FUTURE OF WORK
THE FUTURE OF WORK IS NOT JOBS
When we ask people why they work, the common answer is because they must. Work provides us with an income which in turn enables us to meet our financial needs. This is only natural.
But if we continue to probe, what we discover is that beyond money, work has a deeper meaning. What a person does for a living provides them with a sense of identity and gives them purpose. Unfortunately, for far too many, this sense of purpose is currently under attack.
Automation, part-time work, zero-hour contracts, outsourcing, structural unemployment -- all have given rise to feelings of inadequacy and displacement among workers, not only in America but around the world.
Proponents of what’s become known as the “gig economy” applaud these developments as an opportunity for people to finally have economic ownership over their lives; a chance for initiative, creativity and personal branding.
Workers think otherwise. About a third of the American workforce has a job that he or she considers completely meaningless. When Robert Half conducted a study on workplace happiness, 55% of respondents said they have “little or no control over their work,” with 58% adding that “they have few opportunities” for creativity.
The prospect of becoming an on-call worker, independent contractor, or freelancer appealed to people even less – even though the nine million jobs created since 2005 are in this sector.
So, while it is true that Americans no longer work at jobs where they are, “tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks,” as Herman Melville once wrote, a future world in which they must compete against robots and offshore companies for jobs they neither want nor care about is one which fills them not only with anxiety but dread.