Technology can certainly play a role in solving skills gap-related problems, for instance, by allowing older workers to stay in the workforce longer while younger workers catch up, or by codifying older workers’ knowledge and skills into algorithms and facilitating the transfer of knowledge. “To the extent that younger workers shun certain occupations, the economic incentive to automate those occupations will only increase,” explains Moody’s Analytics’ deRitis. “For example, there is a concern among some homebuilders that many younger workers don’t want to work in construction. As a result, we are likely to see an increasing number of homes built with modular sections that can be built in factories leveraging automation and assembled onsite with a minimal amount of human labor.”
The fact that many industries are dealing with skills shortages and gaps in addition to adjusting to automation and other technology innovation underscores the difficulty in making firm economic predictions. However, the idea that automation is having and will continue to have far-reaching consequences in current and future job markets across industries and occupations is well accepted. Naturally, some industries will feel the effects of automation more than others, but economists, technologists, and futurists all seem to agree that automation technology will affect every existing industry in one way or another. And, while this reality is often wrapped in rhetoric that induces fear and shock, it’s important to spread the message that automation will bring many more possibilities to the table. In the process of eliminating some jobs, this technology will create unforeseen opportunities and, potentially, entirely new industries that will spawn even more opportunities. In the meantime, companies must prioritize reskilling, upskilling, and/or retraining to get existing workforces ready for their organizations’ future needs.