Job Security

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Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

Who’s Building the Infrastructure for Lifelong Learning?

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Current trends in both human longevity and technological innovation raise the possibility of people living until 100 and working until they are 80. It’s clear that much will have to change — both in how people understand and anticipate the evolving nature of work, and how they then respond. Providing access to lifelong learning demands a complex system involving stakeholders in education, government, and the corporate world.

When Jobs Become Commodities

Most of us view our jobs as specialized or somehow differentiated, but the world of business and management increasingly feels otherwise. For many organizations today, the next big driver of job commoditization is automation driven by smart machines. Simply put, if a job is viewed as a commodity, it won’t be long before it’s automated. The key for workers whose jobs have traditionally seemed safe: Highlight the tasks that require a human touch.

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Video: Preparing for the Changes AI Will Bring to Tomorrow’s Jobs

At the MIT Sloan School of Management’s 14th annual CIO Symposium, “The CIO Adventure: Now, Next and… Beyond,” senior IT executives came together to discuss key technologies, including how AI will transform the workplace. The goal: to help prepare these tech leaders for challenges they face, including shepherding ongoing digital transformations, building a digital organization, and managing IT talent.

The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives

People are living longer and working longer — but few organizations have come to grips with the opportunities and challenges that greater longevity brings. Across the world, people are becoming more conscious of their lengthening working lives — but frustrated by their working context. The authors’ research suggests that while people know they will have to restructure their lives and careers, corporations are unprepared.

When the Luddites Fought Back

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

Anxiety about the destabilizing role of technology is hardly new. When new labor-saving technologies were introduced in the British textile industry in the early 1800s, workers lashed out. Smithsonian Magazine writer Clive Thompson describes how their anger and violence boiled over.

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The Shifts — Great and Small — in Workplace Automation

Despite valid concerns about machines displacing workers, human labor isn’t going away any time soon. Tasks that cannot be substituted by automation are generally complemented by it. Still, while automation does not reduce the quantity of jobs, it may greatly affect the quality of available jobs. For workers to benefit from IT, human-capital investment must be at the heart of any long-term strategy for producing skills that are complemented, rather than substituted, by technological change.

The New World of Work

Advanced digital technologies are swiftly changing the kinds of skills that jobs require. Researchers Frank MacCrory, George Westerman and Erik Brynjolfsson from the MIT Sloan School of Management and Yousef Alhammadi of the Masdar Institute studied the changes in skill requirements over the 2006-2014 time period. While demand has clearly grown for computer skills, it has grown for interpersonal skills, too. The authors advise people in all lines of work to be flexible about acquiring new talents.

How the Digital Revolution is Affecting Employment

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

Race Against the Machine, a new book by MIT Sloan’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argues that while digital automation is accelerating innovation and driving productivity, it’s also transforming what kinds of jobs are secure.

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More companies seek creative alternatives to layoffs

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In this downturn, some companies are trying cost-cutting measures such as reducing workweeks, offering or requiring unpaid time off, or cutting executive compensation.

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