Future of Employment: flexible and uncertain

26, March

A column of Jose Carlos Rodriguez published by El Imparcial analized a report made by UKCES. Conclusions are ...

A column of Jose Carlos Rodriguez published by El Imparcial analized a report made by UKCES. Conclusions are interesting to analize from Latin American context.

The report: The future of work. Jobs and skills in 2030.is about United Kingdom but its considerations are interesting to be analized from Latin America

The first aspect to take into account is “twenty years ago, commentators were convinced the most important change in the UK labour market would be the reduction in the number of working hours”. Those predictions were previous internet, mobiles and tablets and also before working and leisure time were mixed up

There are certain tendencies today that are unlikely that they will change before 2030. In the next decade and a half, says the report, the percentage of active people aged 65 or more will increase. The role of women will also increase and the importance of immigrants too. There is a wish to conciliate the personal life and the working one, even though, nowadays, they tend be confused since one can work virtually at any time and place. The economic power will move to Asia and in fact, it is expected that in 2030, 60 percent of the consumption of the middle class will be carried out from that continent. It is thought that the structure of companies will become more flexible.

Due to the fact that the capital is complementary and flexible, the economy is vulnerable, that is tos ay, if one piece fails (for example energy), the rest of the pieces fail too. This idea was expressed for the first time and in an academic context, by Ludwig M. Lachmann in its book  Capital and it’s Structure, of 1956. The report takes this idea, without mentioning the author. But Lachmann, also says, that a capitalist economy, although being vulnerable, it also has the advantage of being flexible and the ability to adapt itself.

There is a central stage and three possible breaks. The central stage, with current tendencies, aims to the conventional way of early training in a sector till the end of a professional career. On the contrary, what it is expected is changes from one sector to another, with more complex careers, formation which combine specialization, versatility and adaptation to change. Within the trend of business structures to relax, there will be more workers with two or more employers.

But there could also be disruptive tendencies. The first is that society could be divided between the ones who have and the ones who do not have the technological uses which will remain in the future. A new session of the false dichotomy of Umberto Eco between apocalyptic and integrated people. The access to these uses seems to be easier so the probabilities are low.

The second says that the super technological economy will save work and will lead to the accumulation of unemployed workers, a trend expressed by Rifkin in The End of Work. Technology makes work more productive but that productivity does not solve the problem of scarcity. And if there is scarcity, assets will have value and therefore work will have value.

And the third disruptive trend starts with an assumption of a subdued growth, compatible with a competitive economy but which don´t allow the development of workers, especially less skilled workers.