Labour Market Adaptation in the Age of Automation

As disruptive technologies push the frontiers of automation and encroach on some of the advantages that humans have been thought to possess over machines, the way we work is being transformed.

Highlights

  • What does automation mean for the future of employment? Will technology yield big gains in productivity and an improved quality of life? Or does it pose a threat to workers and jobs that will strain the broader socio-economic system in the coming decades? Yes—to both.
  • Automation is both a substitute for and a complement to human capital and intelligence. The challenge for workers in the "age of the machine" will be to figure out where they can add value and/or perform non-automatable tasks, and where computers can act as substitutes for human labour.
  • BC’s shifting demographic structure, combined with automation, may point to added stresses for our socio-economic system.
  • For government and industry, policies to build appropriate skills should be a priority to help address the consequences of automation and prepare for the digital economy. Digitized, computer-generated knowledge, products and services promise gains in productivity and the overall quality of life—but also threaten to leave behind those who are unable to adapt.