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Navigating AI & The Future of Work: Insights for National Careers Week

Updated: Apr 3

Discussions surrounding the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the workforce have taken centre stage. A recent article in The Guardian delves into the concerns raised by experts regarding the implications of Elon Musk's vision of a world dominated by AI, without of traditional forms of employment.

Initiatives like National Careers Week prompt us to reflect on the evolving nature of work and its effect on our mental health. While advancements in technology and automation undoubtedly reshape job markets, we need to acknowledge the value of work beyond earning money.

At its core, work provides individuals with a sense of purpose, structure, and social connection. This intrinsic value of work is backed by research showing its positive impact on mental health. However, as AI threatens to and is already beginning to disrupt traditional employment, some people fear, whilst others look forward to: a world without work at all.

The concept of a world without work poses significant risks to mental health and societal well-being. As one expert states, "A world without work ‘is a terrible idea of what society would look like for all sorts of reasons, as well as people’s mental health.”

Discussions like these lead us to think about the societal implications of a jobless future. Beyond economic concerns, a world without work raises profound questions about identity, purpose, and social isolation. 

So what can we do? We can adapt - as humans always do - with these new technologies. There may be a future where we don’t need to work as often, but a wholly jobless society is unlikely, and if possible, it is a long way off yet. Perhaps we won’t work as often or for as many hours, but we will still carry out a reduced - yet important - work role. 

In 2019, notable research found an ‘optimal threshold’ for promoting mental health benefits through paid employment and it was set at just 8 hours per week. In their words, “One day of paid work a week is all we need to get mental health benefits of employment.” 

So, we can maintain work, at a lesser rate and still see the mental health benefits. Bear in mind, this doesn’t necessarily mean working for longer doesn’t give us other, just as important, benefits like purpose, structure, and social connection. 

In conclusion, the insights gleaned from The Guardian article highlight the intricate relationship between work, technology, and mental health. National Careers Week serves as an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue and action to ensure that the future of work is one characterised by adaptability, good mental health and real purpose.

[Reference: The Guardian article, "Experts question Elon Musk's vision of AI world without work," -, published on 3 November 2023.] 

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