From the printing press, to the steam engine, to the computer, technology has evolved over time to make work drastically different and more productive.
Some commentators believe that technological innovation – particularly in the form of information and communication technology – will make us more efficient, but will also change where we work, how we work, and even the nature of work itself.
There is no consensus on how this transformation will continue to unfold. But, it seems clear that emerging technologies could accelerate growth, spur the introduction of new products and services, shift the demand for labour skills and in some cases displace labour. For example, information and communication technology increasingly enables routine tasks to be performed by robots – resulting in a declining need for certain types of labour. At the same time, there may be increased demand for highly skilled workers who can perform tasks that require problem solving, intuition, persuasion, motivation, “people” skills and creativity – tasks that cannot be performed by computers.
Many studies have focused on the risk that technological advances will negatively impact some aspects of the economy. Others highlight the opportunities technology brings. There is no disputing that the impact of new technology is being felt by workers and employers, and it is reinforcing and amplifying the effect of related trends such as globalization.
On 17 February 2015 the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, one of the provinces of Canada, appointed two Special Advisors to report on the changing workplace. The Special Advisors have invited submissions in an impressive and informative document: : Changing Workplaces Review: Guide to Consultations