Emerging technologies will not cut jobs but create new ones: EU official – Emirates News Agency

Tue 09-11-2021 12:21 PM
By Binsal Abdulkader
DUBAI, 9th November, 2021 (WAM) — The concerns about emerging technologies likely to take away human jobs is unfounded and new technologies will create new jobs, a top European Commission official told Emirates News Agency (WAM).
"About 50 percent of today’s jobs could be automated by 2050. At the same, new jobs will appear. Green transition will keep generating demand for low-and medium-skilled roles in the energy sector, with 75 percent of employees expected to be manual workers and technicians in 2050," said Maros Sefcovic, European Commission Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight.
He added that COVID-19 pandemic proved the need for labour, not machines. "I think I have to focus on scientific evidence, even which cannot be sometimes 100 percent correct. I remember that [at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic], there was a huge worry about dramatic unemployment. The problem in Europe now [post-pandemic] is shortage of labour. We would be able to employ more people than we currently do."
Sefcovic said when machines were first introduced and used, there were similar concerns that they would take away jobs from people.
"But the past experience, which is also confirmed by the foresight exercises we did this year, [shows] there will be new jobs. There would be more cooperation between robots and the people, the so-called cobots [collaborative robots] approach to work. I think even the best artificial intelligence can never replace the human approach, human sentiment, the care and caring we humans do while treating [patients] at hospitals and the elderly at their homes," Sefcovic explained.
However, he pointed out that, the world would need a much stronger education in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] disciplines.
"We need our new generation to be better prepared, but at the same time we expect that there will be a lot of manual or technical jobs. So I think that it's true. We would need to make sure that we would help the people to prepare for much faster dynamics on the labour market."
The official noted that the top ten professions of today did not exist just five years ago. "So this is how the job market is evolving, and therefore, I think we just would need to prepare the young generation [to realise] that one of the features of their life would be they will have to be perpetually upskilled to prepare for the new types of jobs. But I think this new development will also bring new job opportunities for people."
Asked about the potential areas of cooperation between the EU and the UAE, he said, "There is so much overlap in how the European Union and the UAE see the future in important areas. Of course, one of the key priorities is how to tackle climate change and what we can do in the field of future-oriented policies. The areas of cooperation includes tackling the climate change using the new technologies."
Elaborating on the cooperation on climate change, he pointed out the UAE’s announcements on achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and joining the commitment made by the EU and the USA to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by the same time. "These are very important milestones for all of us."
Last week – in an exclusive interview with WAM at Slovakia Pavilion at Expo 2020 – Sefcovic stressed that digitisation is another important area of cooperation. "I know how important it is for the e-government for what we describe in Europe as human-centric artificial intelligence. [Which means] We can use the technology but humans should always stay in control."
Resourcefulness, resilience, and strategic autonomy are also common topics of interest for both parties, he said.
The European Union has already identified 10 areas that could enhance EU’s open strategic autonomy and global leadership. Those areas are sustainable health and food systems; decarbonised and affordable energy; capacities in data management, artificial intelligence and cutting-edge technologies; the supply of critical raw materials; first-mover global position in standard-setting; future-proof economic and financial systems; skills and talents that match long-term ambitions; security, defence and space capacities; nurturing our global partnerships, and strengthening public institutions.
"We can not only have very fruitful discussions but also cooperate well in all these areas in future," said the official.
Sefcovic visited a few pavilions at the Expo 2020 Dubai, beginning with the UAE pavilion. The architectural design and the idea behind the composition of the pavilion that presents the vision for the next 50 years, based on the tradition and history, are very impressive, he stressed.
Pointing out the principles of the UAE’s Centennial plan [until 207], based on green energy, digitalisation, and education of the workforce on being sustainable, and being climate neutral, he said, "This is what we share between the EU and UAE. Therefore it was so impressive to see how much UAE has accomplished over the last 50 years and how much of these new technologies and new prospects are presented here at Expo."
The European Commission official noted that the UAE has proved yet again by organising the Expo 2020 that the country is a great host. "They know how to organise the big events. I think there is unprecedented high participation in Expo. So I’m sure that UAE’s diplomacy will also do its best and that you would be a very strong competitor for becoming the host of the COP 28 [the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Abu Dhabi in 2023]."


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