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Future of Employment Plagued by New Technology

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 11 2013 (IPS) - With opportunities and challenges brought on by rapid development in information and communication technology, it is estimated that more than 470 million jobs must be created between 2015 to 2030 to tackle the current financial crisis, and meet the needs of a growing population.

In a panel discussion titled ‘The Future of Employment: The World of Work in 2030’, Abdou Salam Diallo, Chair of the UN Second Committee emphasized the importance of education for development.

“New skills must be taught on a large scale to take advantage of this development, and that is where training, and employment of young people become especially significant”, said Diallo.

New technologies like artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics, and synthetic biology are not only improving productivity but also reshaping both business and the labour market,  he added. Raymond Torres, Director of the International Institute for Social Studies at the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that by 2030, underemployment and unemployment would rise and that even those who were highly educated would require additional intricate skills in order to function in a highly demanding labour market.

 In 10-15 years, more development will be achieved with new technologies like 3D printing and synthetic biology being fully realized. This means, modern working environments will come earlier than people’s expectation.

However, according to Barbara Birungi, Founder and Director of Women in Technology, Africa might be left out in this employment transformation. It is witnessing a widening gap between traditional job training and international needs.

“In the world of 2030, traditional jobs will go away, but the education system in Africa is still training us for traditional jobs, they are not moving forward to train with more technology and entrepreneurship as they should.” said Birungi, who later added that by 2030, if no changes were made, international companies would only hire foreigners to work in Africa because the locals are not skilful enough to take the available jobs.

Inequality is another challenge that working population—especially women have to confront in the future employment.

Birungi added that social norms continued to promote ideas that women were not equal to men and therefore employment opportunities remained highly unequal. Women in Africa are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid. Birungi called on international companies to equip youth, especially young women with modern skills, and to transform the traditional education system.

According to Population Division of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), by 2025 there will be 8.1 billion people in the world.  In order to address the needs of underemployment and unemployment, both civil society and government will need to invest in the education and training of all, in a manner that is empowering and focuses on skills needed for high quality jobs.

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