McKinsey Global Institute has an interesting report (Nov 2017) on the future of work. They claim that many workers are going to be challenged in the next 13 years by the transition to automated labor in certain fields. There may be enough jobs available in other non-automated categories to make up some or all of the difference, but how do displaced workers get into those jobs? Or will they even want to?
Take a look at their interactive graphic which shows the impact of automation on work. There are some fascinating estimates that science fiction writers and futurists might consider when writing their next story or novel.
For example, why will China see an 85% increase in Creative jobs, while Japan will see a 4% decrease in that kind of work? Are they estimating that Japan will have less interest in entertainment or the arts or more interest in having robot performers and creatives? Or perhaps this number is due to an expected decrease in Japan’s population.
Speaking of decrease, you can also see a 20-30% and more reduction in openings for many physical and office jobs in the U.S., Germany, and Japan. But healthcare worker openings will increase tremendously in many countries. Do all displaced office or physical labor workers want to be in the healthcare field, though? Will we find in the next 13 years that robots take more of those healthcare jobs than McKinsey Global predicts?
What if displaced office or physical labor workers decide that creative jobs are more interesting and/or more satisfying? While we might see growth in creative jobs, and have creatives to fill them, we might also see a decline in pay — and aren’t many artists known for starving already?
I have a couple of stories related to this topic, but I will give some thought to how I can incorporate this important futurist topic into some of my new ones. If you’d like to read my related stories having to do with careers, you can find “It’s in the Stars” in my e-book “Science Fiction: Genetics” and “Time Enough for Sarah” in “Science Fiction: Time Travel”.