Don’t fear the robots. While new technologies are giving rise to a “jobs gap” – or a mismatch between the jobs people want and the ones that are available – they’re also affording new opportunities for workers, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. argues in a new report. The rise of automation, online tools, and big data echoes industrial revolutions of the past, with occupations and businesses following a “natural evolution” as technology advances, the bank argues. While the transition can be painful, it can also be helped along by new policies seeking to better share the temporary discomfort of rapid tech-driven change.
“The fact that technological change and innovation affects everybody across the political spectrum and the social spectrum means that there is a lot of focus on finding new approaches to bear the risk and to help people adapt,” Sandra Lawson, director of Goldman Sachs Markets Institute, said in an internal interview last week to discuss the report. It’s not just that there’s a lot of effort is going into solving the problem — technology is constantly evolving, which Goldman argues can make adapting easier. In the meantime, workers are already responding to the new employment landscape by taking on “adaptive occupations” that are better insulated from the rise of the machines. Such occupations include nurses and web developers but can also extend to more traditional vocations such as carpenters, plumbers, and tailors.
“The fact that it’s a series of steps as opposed to one or two giant steps also makes it much easier to make adjustments to,” said Steve Strong in, head of Goldman Sachs Research, who co-authored the report.