EY Uruguay Partner outlines the future of technology and the workforce

26 July 2018 Consultancy.lat 4 min. read

In an ongoing global conversation about the future of both jobs and technology in the workplace, Fernando Reggio, a Partner with the EY’s consulting business in Uruguay shares his views on the government’s obligation to train its citizens for the workplace of the future. 

Collecting tax is just a means to an end and that end is efficient public services and social redistribution according to EY’s Fernando Reggio. Speaking to Uruguayan magazine Búsqueda, (in Spanish) Reggio says that whilst technology has made the system itself more efficient, that the rewards are not always being efficiently redistributed to the public. 

“Technology generates transactions more quickly, but it needs people who can assist it. And those people who can assist it [in these transactions] will have more possibilities of work” in the future, Reggio says. “The taxes that finance education, if they were efficient, would then in turn go towards forming that type of people who will go on to work with the same technology.” 

Reggio begins by taking us back to the start of the millennium. “Ten or fifteen years ago we used a way to collect taxes that was not as simple as now,” he says. Today, we can pay our taxes via bank transfers online and on Sundays, which was unheard of in Latin America before the internet. “In this sentiment, it’s progressed in a great way and has given many possibilities so that you don’t have to change location in order to pay.”

These possibilities have in turn made governments more efficient, however Reggio contends that these efficiencies are not being continued throughout the bureaucratic process of administration. The shortfall he says is across the board but exemplified in public education which is not fulfilling its role to develop the next generations for the future of work. “It’s why private schools are always gaining more ground.”

Just like tax being a means to achieve an end, so too is technology – albeit with a different designated outcome. Reggio gives an example: “There are fewer people working in the fields [in agriculture]. That's true, physically speaking, however, how many people work for the agricultural sector?” 

“How many people are designing harvesters or thinking agricultural inputs (eg. pesticides, fertilisers)? Technology generates work. We had a model in which we gave a service and with that service we relied on technology, but now it has progressed so much that by itself it already provides services. Before, technology assisted us, while now we are increasingly assisting it.”

EY Uruguay Partner Fernando Reggio outlines the future of technology in Uruguay

“Today you have to be more updated because everything changes constantly. We need engineers, people who are helping technology to fulfil its function. All these are jobs that are generated and that will continue to be generated. Before, it was very important to know how to read and write, because the jobs at that time required it. Today it is not enough for you anymore. You have to use technology, know how to operate a cell phone, computers, a lot of tools to be in the labor market. We have to educate people to manage those technologies.”

This is what Reggio means when he is talking about tax and government spending. When tax is collected more efficiently creating savings in the bureaucratic system, those savings should go on to ensure that the public can benefit as well; in this case by turning the focus of education towards the skills which will be necessary to enter a disrupted and technology-driven labour market.

“The end does not change,” he says, referencing that people still want the same things that they did a century ago. Whether it’s job security, money to put one’s children through a good education, to live comfortably and to develop in our professions, those values are the end game. Technology now puts those goals within reach but changes the route to achieve them, and for Reggio, it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that it passes on the knowledge. 

“Today we [at EY Uruguay] have computer companies that provide engineering services or other functions. We, despite being a firm of accountants, need more and more engineers. This generates alliances with companies because we also have to be more efficient to achieve what we want. The technology fell directly on top of us and we had to learn to use it. Today, companies have to be able to take technology and take it to where we want to use it.

Reggio, when asked if he was worried if technology will take jobs away, said that it's the other way around. Jobs will shift from the low-skilled category to require higher technical knowhow, creating more opportunities for more capable people.“Technology generates transactions more quickly, but it needs people to assist it and those people who can assist it will have a job.” 

“That generates more evolution, more quickly. Robotics is coming, which will replace jobs without any doubt. But others are going to appear, because we need people who work for robotics. So far, that happened in the world. The world changed substantially and there is more and more work,” he concludes.