Labour Market Adaptation in the Age of Automation

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As disruptive technologies push the frontiers of automation and encroach on some of the advantages that humans have been thought to possess over machines, the way we work is being transformed.


  • What does automation mean for the future of employment? Will technology yield big gains in productivity and an improved quality of life? Or does it pose a threat to workers and jobs that will strain the broader socio-economic system in the coming decades? Yes—to both.
  • Automation is both a substitute for and a complement to human capital and intelligence. The challenge for workers in the "age of the machine" will be to figure out where they can add value and/or perform non-automatable tasks, and where computers can act as substitutes for human labour.
  • BC’s shifting demographic structure, combined with automation, may point to added stresses for our socio-economic system.
  • For government and industry, policies to build appropriate skills should be a priority to help address the consequences of automation and prepare for the digital economy. Digitized, computer-generated knowledge, products and services promise gains in productivity and the overall quality of life—but also threaten to leave behind those who are unable to adapt.