Can we be ready for the immense change that is about to come?
Technology has been steadily evolving for years. It’s absolutely remarkable to see all that the human race has achieved through successful innovation & creativity.
This evolution of technology has now led us to a place where machines can perform human tasks and even accomplish things we cannot! That being said, the technology we have today is capable of automating 45% of jobs. Which jobs will be replaced? Well, to put it simply- the ones with repetitive, routine tasks. Why? Because of the increased productivity by widespread automation. Besides, it’s more cost-efficient and productive to do tasks such as manufacturing, data entry, and driving using artificial intelligence.
The use of robots will result in high efficiency in the workplace; however, it’s also essential to think about the tremendous job loss that will take place across the country- as it will severely impact our economy. We know we can’t stop technology innovation, so as AI technology gets even smarter, how can we take action to prevent high unemployment rates and an unstable economy? I think that Canada’s ideal plan would consist of 3 steps- creating jobs, facilitating smooth work transitions, and retraining displaced workers.
- Every willing worker in Canada should get a job that provides them with decent-high pay and standard of living.
- The 2067 unemployment rate should be the same level or even lower than the 2019 rate (5.97%) before the pandemic
- The average Canadian income of $52 600 per person should be maintained or exceeded.
In the coming years, numerous countries will continue to turn their machine-based economy into knowledge-based ones.
The World Bank Institute’s Knowledge Index measures a country’s ability to generate knowledge and use it for economic prosperity. So as Canada transitions to even more of a knowledge-based economy, we can look up to countries such as Denmark and Sweden (rank 1st and 2nd on Knowledge Index). Based on the Index measure, it’s a good idea to take inspiration/ideas from some of the top countries and implement them as emerging technology further develops.
Now let’s get into the plan and look at the first step- creating new jobs.
Inevitably the nature of the workplace will transform with the use of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. See, many jobs will be taken over, but even more new jobs will be created. These millions of jobs in Canada will be generated in existing and entirely new industries! It’s important to note that the increased use of AI will mostly impact the low and medium skill jobs and create an abundance of high skilled occupation opportunities.
These are just a few industries that will create an influx of jobs for people all across Canada:
- Artificial intelligence programming
- Augmented and virtual reality
- Autonomous vehicles
- Space exploration
- Alternative energy sources
- Research and development for technology used in ALL industries
- Carbon emission reduction technology
In addition to this, we can also focus on training workers who internationally consult companies on implementing AI within their systems (again creating more jobs). By generating employment in the sectors above and exporting products to the rest of the world, we will employ millions of people and become experts in technology. What’s the result of this? High paying jobs, a strong economy, and the development of skills irreplaceable by automation within our population.
Once we create new jobs, it’s necessary to retrain & upskill employees to fit the needed skill set.
Contrary to popular belief, the development of technology won’t cause a shortage of jobs. Instead, there will be a completely different skill set needed to work because machines can’t replace specific social skills. I’m talking about soft skills like emotional intelligence, decision making, creativity, critical thinking, people management, and effective communication. These skills are human, and they are extremely valuable to our population. Moreover, these robots will be able to do most manual labour, but humans must control the process & make these important decisions.
Why retrain and not rehire? Current workers are already familiar with company procedures and only need to update their skill set. Retraining employees by upskilling will be necessary for the years to come, as it is merely a cheaper option compared to large scale layoffs and rehiring.
Retraining can be done by investing in online courses, seminars, or even community classes on campus for these people. This will ensure growth & experience in the required areas.
Digital literacy is extremely salient in this day and age. Therefore, apart from retraining, I strongly believe we should teach it to children from a young age. We must make changes in the Canadian curriculum to integrate technology, machinery, and artificial intelligence. Some ways we can do this are investing in the education of teachers and staff and providing hands-on experiences by sending key innovators & industry professionals to classrooms. This will ensure the development of knowledge needed in the future generation’s careers.
Without a doubt, our world is continuously evolving. Things change. This is why it would be valuable to clearly distinguish and teach the skill sets needed for the countless new jobs we are about to see.
Although this will be a significant change for Canadians, it is certainly possible. Take in- two centuries ago, 90% of the American population was working on farms! Isn’t that completely crazy?
After the industrial revolution, the majority of the population found new jobs and redeveloped their skill sets. And now? The current percentage of people working on farms in America is only 2%, proving that retraining Canadian employees is definitely manageable during the fourth industrial revolution, and can be done with the right planning.
It is my hope that the transition to a fully knowledge based economy is as seamless as possible. Let’s go more into this process in the third (and last) step of the plan!
The most crucial part of these transitions is to train workers ahead of time, by being aware of the timeline of changes. As automation comes into place, workers should be moved to their respective occupations with newly developed skill sets. For people taking courses to upskill, the government should provide opportunities such as education grants, scholarships, apprenticeship opportunities, and mentorships.
While facilitating these transitions we should keep in mind two goals: 1) efficiently retrain the current workforce, and 2) teach digital literacy to the youth.
By investing in these two goals- we ensure Canadians are gaining experiences and knowledge to be employed in the coming future. Scholarships and education grants will provide everyone with the ability to further their education, and act as contributing members to our evolving society. Additionally, with apprenticeships, students will have a real chance to have hands-on experience and put their skills into practice.
We can also start knowledge centres to learn about cutting edge technologies that will shape the future of humanity. Personally, I think it would be the coolest thing ever. Just imagine an institution dedicated (for example) solely to the developing, understanding, and teaching of artificial intelligence!
As we start these knowledge centres, Canada can hire people who are international experts on these emerging technologies. We can also create academic and business partnerships to support real time learning, and colleges can send their students to get experience in the workplace. The possibilities to support the learning of our population are endless.
As a country, it is essential for us to strategically invest in the right things to achieve sustainability strategically. In the short term, we may struggle more/have less; however, we must build for the future.
It’s not just one generation that we need to provide for.
There will be generations and generations of people to come. Moving through these phases of the 4th industrial revolution requires planning. Throughout this article, I’ve talked about Canada- but this goes for any country in the world.
By planning the transition to come we will hopefully achieve sustainability, while guaranteeing the quality of health, and necessary resources WITHOUT compromising on the quality of life for future generations.
It’s in our best interest to maintain the economy and guarantee we have plenty of jobs to go around.
Canada has always been dedicated to building a strong country, driven by innovation. The goal is to ideally, become a leader in our digital global economy. I believe we are likely to succeed given our current level of progress on this issue.
What’s our current progress you may ask? Well, Canada has been the first country in the world to release a national AI strategy. Along with this, concerns about the future workplace and embracing emerging technologies have been addressed by minister Bains, along with 6 other highly qualified digital engagement leaders.
If we’re talking in terms of a knowledge-based economy, Canada is also doing well. We place 6th in the world on the Knowledge Index created by the World Bank.
Additionally, we have express entry visas for professionals to apply all over the world. In this visa, the most qualified professionals get Permanent Residence, and are able to migrate to Canada. It’s actually pretty simple!
The government has done this to encourage international skilled workers to come to Canada & lead the economy in an efficient way.
It is fair to say some of these immigrants will play an active role in transforming the current workplace, and teaching digital literacy to the future workforce.
Although we have room to improve, these are definitely steps in the right direction. I truly feel that Canada will be able to reach this goal, but only if we follow a curated plan- create jobs, up-skill employees, and facilitate smooth work transitions.
The fourth industrial revolution? It’s already here.
But don’t worry, we got this.