The labor market is looking at huge upcoming change as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold, with its massive advances in technology and huge investments in artificial intelligence, digitization and the energy sector revolution, including logistics. Moves to slow climate change and switch our dependence on fossil fuels to green and renewable sources is expected to generate more than 38 million jobs by 2030. And digitization is, according to the World Economic Forum, set to offer a net gain of 58 million jobs. Of course, these jobs will not be like-for-like. They will require people to retrain and upskill. Just how practical is that?
AI is already replacing many repetitive jobs in production, banking and administration, the screening of information, some customer service roles, and many others. However, these changes will generate many more jobs in cybersecurity, while humans will be required to annotate collected data with context and give real-life meaning in ambiguous situations. They will also create careers in customer relations and copywriting, as well as jobs that require human understanding, judgment and creativity in unusual situations.
Many of the roles that will be replaced by AI will be entry-level, minimum-wage roles. People take these roles for various reasons. Some want a job with little stress and that is not challenging to tide them over while they study, to top up the family income or to make ends meet while they focus on more creative pursuits. Others seek physical or manual jobs because that is what they prefer to do, it is what they are good at and how they work best. Many manual jobs are highly technical or skilled and require experience to solve problems.
Not everybody wants to work directly with the public or to use computers all day. Some people need a physical job so that they can move about and change tasks, such as factory work often allows for, because a neurodivergence does not permit them to sit quietly behind a desk and screen for long periods.
Companies are likely to make current staff redundant and rehire directly from college or university those qualified in the specific skills they require, often at lower pay grades and with fewer in-contract perks, perhaps increasing the number of zero-hours contracts. It is likely that governments, rather than companies, will be the ones to invest in training and upskilling current employees. This will need to be accompanied by career support to help people find the best new roles to support their skills and abilities. Not everyone is suited to every skill type, regardless of training.
Governments will need to provide career support to help people find the best new roles to support their skills and abilities.
Dr. Bashayer Al-Majed
Logistics is big business, with shipping being a major part of that — 80 percent of transported goods and seeing an 8 percent increase over the past year. However, as shipping is responsible for 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as open-sea pollution, there are plans to move away from oil to green hydrogen, ammonia and electric batteries. This will require changes in infrastructure, as well as on-board engineers trained in these technologies, who will seek to maximize efficiency and solve any issues as they arise. It will also require on-board and port-side staff trained in AI and computing, emissions measurements, equipment and relevant policies.
This will become all the more important as the International Maritime Organization is likely to imminently encourage countries to align with stricter carbon emissions limits in order to restrict the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, while achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. There is justifiable concern that the labor market is just not ready. Many countries are only just beginning to implement their policies, let alone establishing training programs and infrastructure for users. The Maritime Just Transition Task Force has calculated that 800,000 seafarers will require training over the next 10 years.
Despite this, it is reassuring to see that both the Philippines and Indonesia, two of the world’s largest shipping nations, are leading the advance, working with international organizations to establish appropriate policies and training for its seafarers. Indonesia is also working to improve its economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, focusing its industries on green energy production, both for shipping and international sales. If they focus on early implementation, they could help advise other lagging nations, or slower nations may find their seafaring labor being replaced by more appropriately trained expatriates, as in the medical field.
• Dr. Bashayer Al-Majed is a professor of law at Kuwait University and a visiting fellow at Oxford.