The national plan targeting the building of digital economy must take into account the profound changes this type of economy brings to the labour market, especially in terms of the disappearance of many traditional jobs such as school teacher, driver and sales clerk, as opposed to new jobs emerging in the areas of artificial intelligence, Internet of things, robot, and more.
This was the observation of the Human Resources Consultant and member of the Executive Leadership Programme for the Business School at the University of Leeds, Abeer Al Matooq. Commenting on Bahrain being ranked 41st globally in the results of the recently released “GTCI Report 2020, titled “Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Al Matooq indicated that education and training bear the main brunt of the tasks of preparing for the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution, and warned of the widening gap between education outcomes, especially the government, and the requirements of the labour market, and called for the development of the role of educational institutions to provide responsible education and training to employees in the middle of their career path.
Al Matooq pointed to the profound changes not only in the labour market but also in the nature of doing business, and said: “The so-called attendance fingerprint will become a thing of the past, and what is now performed by full-time employees within an organisation or institution, will be performed in the future by self-employed and on-demand workers, and the result is economy increasingly depending on short-term employment relationships and not on full-time work, and this means changing full-time jobs to tasks and projects.”
Al-Matooq confirmed that the recent adoption of the “flexible work or work from home” method by many government and private agencies in Bahrain is a positive thing, and also indicates the decision-maker’s determination to keep pace with recent changes in the labour market, but she pointed out that “the importance is in the implementation and results, and the boldness to expand further on such initiatives, which reflects the acceptance by government and private institutions of new methods of doing business, and the willingness to develop their environment of work.”
In a relevant area, Al-Matooq also stressed the need to develop labour market legislation and said that the relationship between the employee and the employer is governed in Bahrain by the Labour Law in the Private Sector for the year 2012, and there are calls to update labour market legislation, but it’s only limited of developing some articles of this law, while we need a new law to keep pace with the changing relationship between the employee and the employer, including work injury, medical insurance, and paid leave such as maternity leave, breastfeeding hours, workplace insurance, pension contributions, and others.”
She concluded her statement by emphasising that the Fourth Industrial Revolution leads to a significant reduction in some roles as it becomes redundant or performed automatically.
According to the Job Future Report, 75 million jobs are expected to be cut by 2022 in 20 major economies. Meanwhile, new technological developments and work methods can also create 133 million new roles, driven by the massive growth in new products and services that will allow people to use machines and algorithms to meet the requirements of demographic shifts and economic changes.