By Diptesh Soni and Devang Vussonji
The debate around the future of jobs is a polarised one: on the one hand, there are the pessimists, who believe we should prepare now for a world of no work. On the other are the optimists, who see the current challenges within global labour markets as a mere blip in a long-term trend of growing prosperity and employment. But neither of these outcomes is predetermined, and neither perspective is entirely new.
Many of the changes we are seeing today have occurred in some way, shape, or form before. Previous periods of technological disruption have typically led to creative destruction (e.g. replacement of music cassettes by CDs and eventually by mp3 files), widespread job displacement, and reactive populist politics.
It was the responses of civil society, policymakers, and their market counterparts that shaped how we went from doom and gloom to labour market boom. And it will be the decisions of their contemporaries that shape the future of work in the coming decades.
Each era of mass disruption and displacement is different from the last. Today, change is happening on a grander scale, much faster than it ever has before.