"The orientation of the economy has favored a kind of technological progress in which the costs of production are reduced by laying off workers and replacing them with machines," he said, noting that "to stop investing in people, in order to gain greater short-term financial gain, is bad business for society."
While there are certainly instances in which this has happened, Bicke said that whether new technologies are actually taking jobs from people is "the great question" of the day, but the answer is still "not clear."
"The studies are not conclusive whether the 'job fear' … is really something happening, or is it just imagination. It's still difficult to understand," he said.
What is clear, though, is an increased growth in the availability of both "highly qualified jobs" and "unqualified jobs," whereas those in the middle seem to "lose their chances."
Bicke said the reason for this might be that the process is "more transformative," meaning that rather than jobs disappearing, they are simply changing.
Addressing concerns, particularly in Europe, that migrants will take jobs from locals, Bicke said this "is nonsense. It doesn't mean anything," because job creation "is a complex thing."
"It depends on the month, it depends on technology, it depends on innovation," he said, explaining that the current difficulty in finding jobs could be boiled down to the "general cycle" of the economy, and the fact that "we are still in a low phase of the cycle."
Unemployment, specifically among youth, was among the topics discussed at a Nov. 19 conference held by the Centesimus Annus Foundation titled "Work, Innovation and Investment: Can Precariousness be Faced?"
The theme will also be carried forward during another conference the foundation will hold in January, as well as during a larger conference taking place in May which will place a special emphasis on the role of new technologies.
Gathering experts on Catholic social doctrine as well as those in professional environments, the conferences are designed to build on each other and foster dialogue as to what effect "precariousness" and uncertainty have on the job market, on the economy, and on human psychology and anthropology.
Also up for discussion will be how new technologies and new areas of investment "can be elements of answer to these problems which no one seems to know how to handle," Bicke said, adding that "It's a problem that's very complex" since it has to do with investment, technology, and education.
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Solutions won't be available overnight, he said, stressing that the discussion is one that will keep moving forward as the foundation continues to carry out its work.
The people who will participate in their meetings, he said, have specific responsibilities in various businesses and organizations, and because of this can "help find solutions in their own environment."
Finding new economic and social models that are "more inclusive and more supportive of human development" is a priority for them, and is something for which Pope Francis asked during their annual meeting in May, Bicke said.
He stressed the need to look for different types of alliances that could help make these models a reality, including collaboration with those from other religions.
When it comes to the global economy, a change in mentality is needed, he said, noting that Catholic social doctrine has constantly insisted that "the basis of the reasoning of many economic theories is wrong, because it starts from an anthropology of the human being seen as an isolated element which only looks for its own individual satisfaction, and it's not true."
Reality "is much more complex," particularly because it is based on relationships, Bicke said, pointing to the importance of knowing how to build up need for solidarity and generosity in business life.