Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work. Understanding these shifts can help policy makers, business leaders, and workers move forward.
There is growing polarization of labour-market opportunities between high- and low-skill jobs, unemployment and underemployment especially among young people, stagnating incomes for a large proportion of households, and income inequality. And from Bayelsa to New York, public debate rages about the future of work and whether there will be enough jobs to gainfully employ everyone.
The development of automation enabled by technologies including brings the promise of higher productivity (and with productivity, economic growth), increased efficiencies, safety, and convenience. But these technologies also raise difficult questions about the broader impact of automation on jobs, skills, wages, and the nature of work itself.
Many activities that workers carry out today have the potential to be automated. At the same time, job-matching sites such as LinkedIn are changing and expanding the way individuals look for work and companies identify and recruit talent. Independent workers are increasingly choosing to offer their services on digital platforms including Freelancer, Uber, and Taxify, in the process, challenging conventional ideas about how and where work is undertaken.
How automation and technology are affecting work
New technologies have the potential to upend much of what we know about the way people work. But disruption is an opportunity as well as a challenge—given the promise of digital talent platforms and new options for independent work, for example.
Our organization has been working tirelessly to create platforms for Freelancers and People who need their services, as well as create a Cab-hailing service for the south-south region of the country. This we believe will create more opportunities for skilled professionals to earn more money without necessarily using the conventional job model.
Many activities that workers carry out today have the potential to be automated
Technological change has reshaped the workplace continually over the past two centuries since the Industrial Revolution, but the speed with which automation technologies are developing today, and the scale at which they could disrupt the world of work, are largely without precedent.
Digitally-enabled independent work is on the rise
While independent work is nothing new (and self-employment is still the predominant form of work in emerging economies), the digital enablement of it is. The proportion of independent work that is conducted on digital platforms, while only about 15 percent of independent work overall, is growing rapidly, driven by the scale, efficiency, and ease of use for workers and customers that these platforms enable. Such platforms include Uber, Etsy, Fiverr, and others.
The real question is how are Nigerian youths developing themselves to fit into this new era of digital work? How can they leverage on these platforms to earn legitimate money while empowering themselves in the process.
It is high time that we rethink the nature of work and align ourselves to this new realities.
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Moses Oruaze Dickson