The changes ahead in work – what it is and does and why it’s done – could well make many of our ideas about work by humans about as relevant in 2040 as the idea of transportation by horses is today in the USA or Europe.
Facing us, in the coming decades, is a new and perfect storm of changes in work, the workforce, the availability and, eventually, the value of work. In the coming decades, the imbalance between the size of the workforce and the scale of available work will grow. Hundreds of millions of would-be-workers will be without work for decades, in countries rich and poor.
There are four major factors shaping this: Two act to dramatically boost the size of the skilled global workforce, and two act to reduce the availability of good jobs for that growing workforce. The factors are -
- The surge in the global workforce;
- The increasing skills in that workforce;
- The concentration of work within ever-more-powerful corporations;
- The rising use of information technologies and robotics to do work that people do or used to do – or that people cannot do.
The scale of these forces and their seeming inevitability seem to set in motion some titanic troubles ahead.
Against these trends, what will we do? What is the world of work going to look like in 30 years’ time? What will people be doing, and why? Will the world hit an apex of “peak jobs” – an absolute maximum in the number of people in employment, and if it does, what happens then?