Employees in the future will work fewer hours but at higher productivity levels

Economist Mike Schussler says employees will work fewer hours in the future but at higher productivity levels. File photo.
Economist Mike Schussler says employees will work fewer hours in the future but at higher productivity levels. File photo.
Image: 123RF/kritchanut

The workplace of the future will see employees more educated and working fewer hours but at higher productivity levels.

That’s the view of economist Mike Schussler of Economists SA who has just released the 18th UASA South African Employment Report (SAER).

Schussler said that the retirement age would also be increased within the next two decades in most of the world, but that pension savings would become more important as people would generally live to the age of 100 years within the next four decades.

This also meant that medical insurance or treatment would become much more important, and not only for the aged.

He added that entry-level jobs would require ever more education, and that 20 years of education might well become the norm for employees along with other skills.

Poverty would be relative rather than absolute for all but a very tiny part of the world. However, Schussler stressed, Africa would still have a lot of work to do in this regard.

“The world of work moves in the direction of automation and connection,” Schussler said.

In just 27 years the share of workers in agriculture has dropped from about 44% to 28%, service workers increased from 31% to 49%, with over 80% of South Africans employed in services already!”

EU data, he said, showed that the move to services made it possible for people to work from home.

While the number of people working at home most of the time had declined, the number of people working at least partly from home had increased.

In 27 years the total number of people who worked at least partly from home had increased from 17.5% to 22.9% in Europe. This trend was also evident elsewhere, Schussler said.

In South Africa, those working in production had declined from 26% in 2001 to 19.4% in 2018, a very rapid reduction that would continue as automation took hold mainly in production sectors

“Although South Africa may lag a little in productivity of manufacturing, it is also improving relatively more quickly here than in services.

The average worker produces three times as much today in manufacturing than five decades ago. Today we need fewer workers and more skills,” he said.

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