GIGLY CEO answers the big questions

The Big Questions Blog

Yesterday, our CEO John McHugh appeared as an expert guest on BBC One panel show The Big Questions, discussing the gig economy and the nature of work in the future. Below, John talks about his experience on the show and the interesting debate he had with authors, academics, policy writers, religious leaders, business people and the audience. 

When the research team from The Big Questions contacted me to find out if I would be interested in appearing on the show, I jumped at the opportunity.

Technical disruption is exciting in isolation, and the impact it has on work and the labour market has far reaching effects on individuals and society. As a technology evangelist, I understand the impact of unintended consequences. It’s important that technology is included in moral and ethical debates such as The Big Questions.

Personally, I believe that work is good. Having a job and giving services to others can be fulfilling. I believe the role of the human is to explore, create and expand our consciousness – and I believe that work helps us fulfil this purpose.

A wake-up call

The nature of work is changing. Process jobs will be replaced by machines – irrespective of whether they’re low skilled or high skilled jobs. Taxi drivers (and all other drivers) will be replaced by driverless cars, and at the other end of the scale, auditors and actuaries will be replaced by machines.

A recent McKinsey & Company report states that by 2030, 800 million jobs could be replaced by machines.

Accenture predict, within 10 years, we will see a new Global 2000 company with no full-time employees outside of the board room.¹ Companies were once lauded for the number of people they employed. Now, the stock market will judge them on how lean their workforce is.This will have a serious impact on our younger generations and our children’s future generations. They will need to be resilient, creative, learn how to ‘learn’ (repeatedly throughout their lives) and focus on the soft skills that cannot be replicated by machines.

Plan for the future

We need to plan for a future that started yesterday. To give our future generations a chance, we need our education system to focus on teaching skills the machines can’t do and wont do.

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, said that only by changing our education system will our kids be able to compete with machines. He believes that we need to focus our education on developing creative skills, like sports, music, art, literature, and we need to master the skill of teamwork. We need to focus on developing our values, which are human values. These are the soft skills that machines can never replicate.²

This is a transitional period in human history, and we need to start planning for the the future now. It won’t happen overnight, but jobs are changing. We are all part of the gig economy now. We’d better get used to it.

I enjoyed taking part in #BBCTBQ. Nicky Campbell’s show was the perfect platform for an inclusive debate, not only to offer my views on the future of work but to listen to others perspective on the gig economy. It was fascinating to gain insights from author of Hired, James Bloodworth and CIPD Head of Regional Policy & Insights, Dr John McGurk.

Change will not come sitting in an echo chamber. All of us, what ever our passion, be it policy, welfare, education, theology or business need to work together collaboratively to achieve shared goals that benefit people.

Meet your heroes

On the day of the broadcast, I was slightly nervous. Not about expressing my view on technology and the future of work. I was nervous to meet Nicky Campbell, host of TBQ and someone I greatly admire. I listen to Nicky on 5 Live every morning, and I have always been impressed with his unbiased approach to debate and cutting insight.

The saying goes that you should never meet your heroes – on this occasion it couldn’t be further from the truth. Nicky was the consummate professional, personally welcoming all the guests to the show – chatting and debating with us all before, during, and after taping.

What a true professional Nicky is. This is one role that a machine could never replace.

p.s. Twitter won’t stop me wearing white trainers

Additional Sources

¹Accenture Liquid Workforce: Building the workforce for today’s digital demands, 2016

² Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, China’s e-commerce giant talking to the World Economic Forum, 2018