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The Great Maladjustment

Posted in Future of Work

In 1930, Keynes wrote on the Great Depression: 

"We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come – namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour. But this is only a temporary phase of maladjustment. All this means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem."

100 year's on, I believe we are on the cusp of "The Great Maladjustment": the automation and augmentation of work driven by new technologies that will greatly shift the nature of employment globally.

And this time, it is different. New technologies will impact all jobs - manual, cognitive, routine or non-routine - and all industries. While we predict around 50% of jobs will be impacted by technology, this by itself is not a helpful statistic. Automation will redefine the nature of work, by removing the need for some capabilities, while adding others. New technologies will create demand for capabilities that will be supplied by those individuals who can quickly adapt. 

We built the Faethm platform to help Governments and organisations identify future employment shifts driven by:

  • Automation;
  • Augmentation (merging, grafting or converging activities and job roles); and
  • Addition (emerging and new jobs).

Some countries are well placed to automate and quickly re-educate their workforce. Others, will adopt new technologies at a much slower pace, and will see job losses as trade partners quickly replace export-services with local technology.

Unless Governments, companies and individuals act now to identify and prepare for future skill needs, we are facing a prolonged maladjustment toward our future economy.

What can your organisation do?

  • Look for external threats and opportunities from new technology
  • Calculate your workforce agility
  • Identify your future skills need

What can you do as an employee?

  • Acknowledge that you are working in unprecedented times and identify the mechanisms you need to adapt: 1) Make sure you’re prepared for change and have some safety money in the bank (just in case); 2) Start to learn new, future, skills; 3) Be aware of changes to your profession within or outside of your industry and look for new opportunities to adapt and provide more value to your firm.