Since the first industrial revolution, with the progress of industrialization, people all over the world have gradually shifted from the daily labor in the agricultural era to modern working mode without educational experience. People generally accept universal education, and some of them continue to enter universities or vocational training institutions for further studies after completing secondary school courses to learn a certain “professional”. Based on professional ability, people join the company, become company employees, and go to work in the unit on working days. Some people keep changing jobs between companies, but the more common psychological expectation is to work stably for a long time in a decent institution.
The new crown epidemic has shaken this traditional working model, but the more important driving force comes from the influence of globalization and the Internet. Recently, Thomas Friedman, the author of “The World Is Flat,” published a column article explaining his observations: “Creative destruction” triggered by an epidemic is underway, and the nature of people’s work, the workplace, and the way the workforce is educated Great changes have taken place.
Friedman’s prediction is not alarmist. We can find that being forced to work from home due to the epidemic has achieved a large-scale “test”. The results prove that it is feasible to allow a large number of employees to work from home, the network infrastructure can provide technical support, and the commuting time of employees has been greatly reduced. With the help of new technologies such as 5G, AR, and VR, the efficiency of working at home is expected to increase substantially. Some well-known IT companies in Silicon Valley have accepted their employees “permanently” work from home. Although China’s current acceptance of this approach is not too high, there is no doubt that there is a clear trend expectation.
Digital technology has brought another trend: outsourcing. People transmit work results through the network, and use digital technology to integrate and assign the work relationships and tasks of a large number of people. Under normal circumstances, people are just doing a job without the sense of belonging of the company. For example, in 2019, the number of Chinese takeaway riders exceeded 7 million, and the number of online ride-hailing drivers exceeded 10 million. Although these people have the logo of the platform, they are not employees of the platform company, but only work under a certain service contract. In terms of mode, this type of work is to complete a certain task and obtain a certain income, and the contract can be terminated at any time, which is very fragmented and fragmented. What everyone does is a single task, no more contact with the company, no hierarchical management, only machine instructions. In the past, ordinary workers who took part-time jobs in the labor market still needed to accept verbal instructions from their employers, at least to have a temporary employment relationship, and outsourcing in the digital age has become a machine system to dominate the work process.
As work processes are increasingly digitally and efficiently sorted out, more and more company work will become “tasks” that can be outsourced. It can be expected that after more general skills such as food delivery and driving, more complex skills will be added to the platform. More and more people will enter the “system” to find “tasks” to earn income like takeaway riders, instead of choosing to join a company. In extreme cases, some economic events that usually require the company’s heavy participation will be completely broken down into various work tasks, and the company’s existence will no longer be required for capital circulation. For example, if someone needs some kind of complicated art design, they will find a company in the past, and in the future, they may only need to publish the task on the platform to complete it automatically.
This model will also have a great impact on people’s education model. In the past, when people joined the company, even if the work they did after joining the company was not directly related to their educational background, they still needed to accept the company’s strict evaluation of their educational background. The entry threshold to a large extent comes from academic qualifications, so people attach great importance to academic education. But under the task mode, the role of educational background will undergo a substantial change. People can get income as long as they can complete tasks on the platform. There are no educational thresholds for tasks, or there are only symbolic thresholds. Educational background will help to complete tasks, but in the end it is practical to speak. Those with academic qualifications may not do, and no education It’s not necessarily bad.
The impact of the “task mode” on people is twofold. It not only provides opportunities, but also constitutes the pressure of continuous learning. Modern society provides massive open learning opportunities. People do not need to be admitted to universities and other institutions to learn some complex skills, such as making a mobile app. With the rapid advancement of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the skills learned by ordinary people under traditional education and company models will be challenged twice: one is a machine, the other is a platform task, and full-time employees are no longer needed.
To be sure, many people will continue to learn consciously or unconsciously even after work. Some previously mastered skills will be replaced by machines, and some jobs will be replaced by lower-cost and more suitable people due to process changes. In the future society, people will have more opportunities to learn various skills than in the past, and will also face greater pressure to learn skills, whether they like it or not.