The impact on work of emerging technologies on older workers “is of particular concern, because older workers make up a growing share of the workforce and increasingly need to work until their late 60s to attain a secure retirement,” says a report from the Center for Retirement Studies.
The report, the latest in a series that first looked at the impacts of past technological changes, however also says that despite current and projected advances, certain work—especially that involving social interaction, abstract thinking, and complex perceptual and manipulation abilities– is still best performed by a person.
“While computers have an edge in many physical abilities, humans are better than machines at tasks that require mobility in non-standard spaces, such as home repairs to electrical wiring. In terms of cognitive skills, one area in which humans stand out is creativity, which covers jobs ranging from business consulting to video content creation. And humans still have a monopoly in social skills, such as a teacher’s ability to sense and respond to students’ emotions.”
Such skills “do not decline significantly with age,” it adds.
The report further found a strong correlation between having a college education and the types of skills that still will be needed of workers and noted that “ workers in their 50s and 60s today are about as likely to have a college degree as the average prime-age worker . . . education will likely continue to provide workers with a reliable way to adapt.”