There is a global scare of the impact technology will have on jobs worldwide. McKinsey reports that up to 375million people globally will need to change their places of work and acquire new skills. Technology is not a new phenomenon, and fears about its transformation of the workplace and its effects on employment date back centuries, even before the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, rapid advances in automation, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and robotics are now raising the fears anew—and with new urgency. These technologies are dramatically changing the number and nature of jobs around the world. The sharing and gig economies are ushering in the rise of part-time work and re-defining what it means to be an employee. What is the future of work for humans when machines are taking on more of it while companies and workers are rethinking their relationships with each other?
In the 1960s, US President Lyndon Johnson empanelled a National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress. Among the conclusions was the basic fact that technology destroys jobs but not work. This was strongly backed by a study by economists at Deloitte on the relationship between jobs and the rise of technology by digging through data as far back as 1871. They came to a conclusion that rather than destroying jobs, technology has been a great job-creating machine
However, several unanswered questions still linger on the minds of the populace. Will there be enough work in the future to maintain full employment, and if so what will that work be? Which occupations will thrive, and which ones will wither? What are the potential implications for skills and wages as machines perform some or the tasks that humans now do?
Technology adoption can, and often does, cause significant short-term labour displacement, but history shows that in the long run, it creates a multitude of new jobs and unleashes demand for existing ones. More than offsetting the number of jobs it destroys, it raises labour productivity.
Although history tells us that in the long run, technology is a net creator of jobs. Is this time different? An examination of the historical record by McKinsey highlights several lessons, some of which include:
- Employment in some sectors can decline sharply, but new jobs created elsewhere have absorbed those that have been displaced.
- Employment shifts can be painful. Even if enough new jobs have been created to offset those displaced by technology, the shifts can have painful consequences for some workers.
- Technology creates more jobs than it destroys, including some that could not be envisioned at the outset.
- Technology raises productivity growth, which in turn boosts demand and creates jobs.
- Over the long term, productivity growth enabled by technology has reduced the average hours worked per week and allowed people to enjoy more leisure time.
History is quite reassuring about the impact of technology on employment. While for some workers new technology can be highly disruptive, in the long run, if the past is enough justification, creation will triumph over destruction.
Population growth statistics paint a rosy future for the construction industry. With the global population predicted to hit 9 billion by 2050 – and two out of every three people living in cities by 2050 – the demand for construction has never been greater. Worldwide, a report by PWC shows that construction is already one of the largest industry sectors, accounting for more than 11 percent of global GDP and expected to grow to 13.2 percent by 2020.
For the Nigerian construction industry professionals to remain competitive and stay ahead, their mode of operation must be on the same wavelength as the development of prevailing technologies and be able to balance the use of it in the best manner to improve processes and efficiency. While people have different views about the future of the industry, global statistics point to the fact that in the nearest future professionals of the built environment will not be engaged in the same technical tasks that they have been in the past. It is left to professionals who want to remain relevant and become globally competitive to adopt and implement relevant technologies into their everyday practice.
BY: DAMILOLA S. BAMIGBOYE