Jobocalypse now: The impending social catastrophe
Public enemy number one: Artificial Intelligence, the monster which has already undermined our collective existence, the fuel for social terrorism
As school holidays end in Latin America and begin in Europe, as parents frantically scrabble to get their children into the best schools, as the world goes nuts on sanctions and hatred and sabre-rattling, let us all remember once and for all that our collective future is the next generation. That, along with the destruction of our planet and its inhabitants, are the burning issues of today and this is what we must concentrate on finding solutions to. And this is why I write this article to get people thinking of solutions, for all of us.
This is a time when by the day thousands of workposts are lost through automation, robotization, digitalization, Artificial Intelligence which becomes more and more sophisticated, complex and capable of substituting humans.
The issue is the jobocalypse, the destruction of jobs, the closing of workposts and the revolution which the labor market is already experiencing as a result. For a start, the very least we can expect from our governments in this era of the market-oriented economy (not a perfect model but the one we have) is to regulate society in such a way that all are housed, educated, cared for minimally and integrated in some form of employment, contributing to the common wealth through work, paying taxes, consuming and therefore justifying her/his position in society.
Take away one of these vectors from the equation and we have social imbalance. Take away the job vector for one person and we have a family drama; take away the job vector for millions and we have social terrorism. Those who cannot get jobs feel left out, marginalized and demoralized, having to live with their parents until they are old enough to be parents themselves, without a space of their own. Those who had jobs and lost them will find that the education system has become a business so that the haves will have and the have-nots will not. Those who currently have a job will see the situation of employability take a sinister twist in that the employer will insinuate that having work is a favor so out goes the timetable, out goes the lunch break and at six o'clock p.m. where the Hell do you think you are going, there is a client report to be sent?
It is called the Jobocalypse and it is biting now. Secondly, let us remember that the job cycle comes after the education cycle and let us turn to that. Today, our education systems concentrate on the Three Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) which basically train the coming generation to reproduce knowledge sitting in rows or grouped around four desks. The approach fails from day one because if the children have access to cell phones or tablets, the attention span is three minutes before they are off texting or playing video games. Teachers can ban cell-phones from the classroom but at the expense of having to devise multiple activities to stop their students from screaming up the walls, shouting at each other or threatening the teacher with violence in extreme cases.
Look at a dinner table with eight people waiting for their meals, five adults and three young people, and I can guarantee you that the five will be chatting and the three will be texting, sometimes among themselves. Now is that preparing people for the work market, for interaction in a globalized world?
From the Three Rs to the Four Cs
Or should we forget the Three Rs and introduce the Four Cs (Communication, Creativity, Critical Thought and Collaboration)? Teaching children to reproduce what is when in a few years it will no longer be, seems pointless because many of the jobs they are thinking about doing or are already training to do will not exist in ten years' time. It has been estimated that up to half of our large companies will disappear before 2030, along with up to 40 per cent of the jobs which exist today.
Therefore tailoring the education program to meet the needs of transferable skills in a world in which flexible working conditions and freelancing will be the norm, makes sense. And it makes sense to have started yesterday. As a first step. And as a crucial one because if we do not address these needs, now, then we will lose the next generation to joblessness, homelessness, dispondency, demoralization, marginalization, in some cases criminality and terrorism. In a globalized world, education counts not only at home but in the distant corners of the world.
How do we pay for it? The social model defends that if the resources belong to the State, the cost is minimal. The market-oriented model would claim that privatized or outsourced services always have a market-based cost, which as the model morphs into corporatism (what we have today) means that the cost is controlled by an ever-more-restricted clique of providers which restrict the market through loaded tenders. Whatever the system, a social umbrella has to be created which leaves no part of the globe exposed to the terrors of the Jobocalypse.
Quite where we go after education is another question.But let us not complicate serious issues.
Photo: By Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov - http://lj.rossia.org/users/john_petrov/166993.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2649874
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.