Monday, September 21, 2015

A world without work??

Recently, an interesting article via a link on the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) news page caught my eye.

The article, discusses how technology is finally going to impact on work. The use of technology will see more work done by humans, be replaced by computers, robots and/or machines. Although the article discusses implications from a North American perspective, the various works quoted from economists are gleaned from beyond the US of A.

The article makes for some sobering but also uplifting reading. I suppose it depends on where you are at with regards to work. What sort of work are you currently engaged in? Is it enjoyable or a daily drudgery? Is it going to be affected by the imminent technological advances?

The three scenarios (consumption, communal creativity and contingency) of what the world without work may look like provide for some food for thought. Each and perhaps all the three scenarios are feasible. 

As always, it is how society accepts the future role of work that matters. If one is raised to be ‘work-focused’ and see work as a way to ‘provide for oneself and one’s family’ the cessation of work will be traumatic. Work identity is often the pre-eminent identity we have. When we meet someone, one of the first things we ask is ‘what do you do? Meaning what is your occupation.

What happens in a society where work becomes a subset of one’s life? For some, a balanced lifestyle will be within reach. For others, the life of a precariat may not be something they had planned for.

As vocational educators, we need to be always cognisant of what is going on in the world of work. Preparing learners for a world which is in a state of flux and where working life will involve a need to 'shift gears' as the need for certain occupations wax and wane. 

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