Forrester predicts a net loss of 1.42 million US jobs from automation by 2032

Automation will claim more than 11 million jobs in the United States over the next decade, according to a report released Tuesday by Forest.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that over the same time, automation will create 9.63 million new jobs, for a net job loss for the period of 1.42 million jobs.

“The lack of jobs will present challenges to public policymakers,” observed one of the report’s authors, Forrester vice president and principal analyst JP Gownder.

“That means employees need additional reskilling in other professions, which is not something every worker can do on their own,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Yet,” he continued, “the ability of public policy to succeed here will vary. In Germany, where there are close links between universities and employers, this will be easier to achieve than in the United States, where employees are often expected to find their own solutions.

Requalification required

Jayant Narayan, director of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Action Alliance, an international non-governmental and lobbying organization based in Cologny, Switzerland, added that these job losses would create challenges for both government and industry. private.

“For governments, this raises questions about social safety nets, investment in lifelong learning programs and STEM training for citizens, among other factors,” he said. at TechNewsWorld.

“Some of these parameters, like retraining, would have a medium to long term horizon,” he added, “because there might not be a quick fix or a quick retraining opportunity.” .

“For the private sector,” he added, “this raises questions about helping workers break down siled work functions and develop a wider range of transferable skills.”

Darrell West, Vice President of Government Studies at The Brookings Institutea nonprofit public policy organization in Washington, DC agreed that a lot of worker retraining will be needed.

“There are retraining programs, but they’re often not very good and they don’t qualify people for the new jobs that are being created,” he told TechNewsWorld. “We need better programs because new jobs will be created, but many of the displaced people don’t have the skills needed for the new jobs.

“A lot of programs focus on very specific tasks,” he continued, “but the workplace is changing so drastically that it’s hard to find jobs for people who can only do one job. only thing. We need programs that understand what businesses need and the skills they are looking for.

80% of jobs affected by technology

Universities can contribute to retraining by creating hybrid curricula that blend humanities and sciences, Narayan said. “Engineers must understand the ethics of systems and their ramifications before designing them,” he said.

West, however, said community colleges do a better job than four-year institutions of preparing students for employment.

“Community colleges are more focused on the local job market,” he said. “They try to give people practical skills that will help them get jobs. Some universities train people for the workforce that existed before, as opposed to the one that is emerging now.

Forrester explained that the new jobs created by automation will be in professional services and information technology, as well as new industries, such as renewable energy, green buildings, and smart cities and infrastructure.

Source: Forrester forecasts for the future of employment | Graphic credit: Forrester Research, Inc. | Reproduced with permission.

Gownder noted that people working in the new jobs will need to know how to work side-by-side with machines. “Whether or not you have technical skills, you need to be comfortable working in a mixed team of humans and machines where intelligent software plays a key role,” he said.

He added that the greatest impact of technology over the period will come from changing the tasks that make up a given job, not from supporting the job itself.

Assigning a specific task — like automating expense reports, increasing the ability to troubleshoot data problems, or allowing a robot to mop a floor — changes the composition of a given job rather than replacing it, the report explains. Forrester expects 80% of jobs to be affected in this way by 2030, which will improve the employee experience as specific tasks shift to machines.

“Many organizations are introducing technologies that can augment human performance, rather than replace it,” West observed. “We need to understand how humans and robots can coexist.”

Change of attitude

Forrester has also seen a shift in attitude among executives toward automation. Leaders have moved away from viewing it primarily as a cost-cutting effort and are now seeing a wider range of perceived benefits, he explained.

He cited data from Forrester showing that 41% of data and analytics decision makers cited cost savings as a benefit of adopting automation in 2018, but only 25% said the same. in 2021.

Additionally, Forrester found a noticeable increase in the proportion of executives rating deeper insights and competitive differentiation as benefits.

While the proportion who valued freeing up staff to work on higher value tasks has remained stable, he added, it is now the benefit that resonates the most.

Among the broader range of perceived benefits of automation cited in the report are closing talent gaps, freeing up staff to perform more advanced work, improving customer experience, improving quality and safety and getting deeper insights from data to improve tasks and processes.

“Automation can be beneficial in relieving humans of dirty or dangerous jobs, and completely routine and mundane jobs,” West said.

Trust building process

Forrester’s report noted that fears that automation will destroy jobs remain rampant and are not entirely unfounded. But the future of jobs will see a much softer impact from technologies like automation and AI than many observers expect.

Instead, he continued, technology and human workers will increasingly engage in iterative and interdependent collaborations, forming human/machine teams that lead to new levels of quality, productivity and efficiency. customer – and employee experience.

“It’s a trust-building process,” Narayan said. “Workers need to feel part of the journey.”

“The most important thing companies can do is retrain their own ranks,” West added. “If people see an employer introducing automation but training people for other types of jobs, workers will be more receptive to that. What workers don’t want is to be thrown out on the sidewalk with no income.

Ann J. Cox