Losers and winners of digitisation

Losers and winners of digitisation 05.11.2018 - In the online magazine Focus Money, guest author Alexander Burstedde writes about digitisation and its consequences for Germany. He explains his thesis, according to which there will be some losers, but in the end the general public will be the winner. As an employee of the Competence Center for the Securing of Skilled Personnel at the Institute of the German Economy, he experiences on a daily basis how companies struggle with digitization, accept the challenge but are also sometimes disillusioned and give up. Nevertheless he is convinced that the change in the economy is good and right and that it will bring enormous advantages for the general public. In the following article we give you a summary of his contribution "There will be losers in digitisation - but in the end it benefits us all".

Optimism for digital change
Burstedde points out that every sixth German employee is concerned about whether his or her job could be threatened by the advancing digitalisation. This is the result of a survey conducted by the consulting firm EY. However, Burstedde focuses more on the remaining 84% of the population who see digitisation as positive - just as he does. He stresses that there are many legitimate reasons for optimism. Opponents of digitisation are raising fears that machines and computers will soon replace jobs across the board. On closer inspection, however, the long-term effects should be considered more important - after all, digitization will generally lead to greater prosperity. And that affects everyone.

Progress is unstoppable
Of course, the road to comprehensive digitisation is long and sometimes rocky. Politicians and companies still have a lot to do here and must pave the way through targeted decisions. The entire society is involved in the conversion process, young and old are in demand. Burstedde does not want to gloss over anything: for him it is clear that there will be some losers, especially in the initial phase, i.e. now.

But progress cannot be stopped and digitalisation means progress. As an example, Burstedde uses the extensive conversion to machines, which about 70 years ago made many harvest workers unemployed. There have been tragic fates as a result, but today nobody wants to miss these machines anymore and nobody wants to do the work of the harvesters of that time anymore. They finally found other jobs, some of which were created by the invention of the machines. Soon full employment prevailed again. And even more important: prosperity spread, mainly driven by these (and many other) inventions.

The example is good, because digitization embodies the harvesting machines that plunged the workers into great worry at the time. A few courageous decisions and some innovations and technical processes later will lead to the loss of certain jobs, while at the same time other jobs will be created - and society will develop in the direction of greater prosperity. Adaptability and the courage to change are needed.

Courage for change?
So what is the best way to deal with progress and change? With courage and trust. Denial is certainly no solution, and the fight against digitalisation is very probably a fight on a lost date. So why not try to make the best of it right away?
It is not always easy to identify new opportunities. After all, 20 years ago hardly anyone could really imagine what the Internet has become today and what opportunities it has opened up.

A little trust is necessary in the thesis that new jobs will emerge, must emerge, even if at the moment it is still unclear how these will look concretely.
In recent decades, professions have repeatedly become obsolete or skilled workers have had to make changes (for example, printers, typesetters, technical draftsmen, architects, etc.) and yet there are many vacancies. The economy is booming.
Many people work in areas of which others do not even know that they exist.
Studies forecast a shortage of 3 million skilled workers in 2030. Burstedde hopes that perhaps a clever invention will somewhat alleviate this shortage. At the same time, Burstedde predicts that people with very low vocational qualifications will face unemployment. The same applies to qualifications in rapidly changing occupations. Car mechanics no longer dismantle cars today. Rather, they are electronics engineers and need IT skills if you look at what they do on the car.
The qualifications in demand are therefore changing dramatically.

Seeing the opportunity
Burstedde is promoting the search for and recognition of opportunities in digitisation. If everyone makes his or her contribution to driving digitisation towards a new affluent society, everyone will win in the end. New technologies can create more comfortable, environmentally friendly, family-friendly, flexible and humane jobs. Digitisation has long since begun.

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