EDUCATION AND WORK: KEYS TO FACING THE TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION

By Stephen Milder.

February 25, 2021.

Uruguay’s Vice President, Beatriz Argimón, the Minister of Labor and Social Security, Pablo Mieres, and the President of Codicen, Robert Silva, participated in the presentations of La revolución de los humanos, the new book written by the director of CERES Ignacio Munyo, with the journalistic production of Federico Castillo. These are three key personalities. This is not only because they are part of the current government, but also due to the fact that they occupy strategic positions regarding an issue that concerns Uruguay. That is, how we face the future of employment through education in an era marked by technology’s exponential advances.

Mieres listed the three challenges that the technological revolution entails, each one determined by temporality. First, “the support” of people who lose their jobs as a consequence of automation in the short term. Second, “this year great challenge,” which translates into ” workforce retraining.” Last, “the great fundamental core challenge: the educational transformation.”

Silva placed emphasis on this latter point, stating that education is “the instrument to address this question of the technological challenge of automation, in order to place value on manual crafts, creativity, empathy or social intelligence which are considered differentiating aspects in countries where technology advances strongly.”

“There is no doubt that the countries around the world that ramp-up strongly advocated for education. And a strong bet on education is related to economic resources. It also has to do with newer strategies: updating the system and adjusting proposals—in the broadest sense of the term ‘proposals’—which affect the educational system as a whole,” said the head of Codicen.

The Minister of Labor and Social Security emphasized the issue of labor relations. This is an area that needs to “undergo a cultural change that requires time,” as well as “create a climate of mutual trust and credibility of the negotiation process” to leave “a dominant logic in terms of a zero-sum game” behind and reach “the construction of a climate (whose) result implies the visibility of reciprocal benefits.” According to Mieres, under the “logic of advances and setbacks in terms of achievements,” “agreements that recognize that entrepreneurs’ success also imply working living conditions’ success and improvement” are not allowed. Even though there is broad consensus in society about the consequences of technological developments on work and the fact that the central dimension is education, the country is facing a race against time. What “cannot happen is thinking—about Uruguay—from a slow pace when, as a general rule, we talk about resistance to change when we refer to Uruguayans,” Argimón said. “On several occasions, we knew how to be an avant-garde country in many aspects. Why not be now?” she concluded.