5 Feb 2013

Technology is killing employment

There's been a deluge of articles recetly trying to analyse the jobless "recovery" being experienced in developed markets who have started to on-shore specialised niches in manufacturing and technology. The conclusion is that technology (and robotics) are becoming extremely cost-competitive to sweatshop labour and 'knowledge coolies' from the developing world.

The machines are literally taking over. They are cheaper, completely obedient, predictable, and don't require bathroom breaks or pensions funds. I've found this very comprehensive article on Yahoo, which explores the loss of midskill, middle pay, middle class jobs to technology.

The thing to remember is this: What is being lost is the entry level for the next generation of human workers in these sectors. No one - except the oligarchs' spawns - starts at the top of the organisational pyramid, skipping the middle level altogether!

Moreover, there is hardly any sector that will be unaffected by the creep of technology. We don't have a Skynet yet, but it is more believeable that ever before! There are holographic pop groups in Japan, robotic surgeons elsewhere, softwares that can supposedly write Ads (here's my earlier rant on the subject), and even pilotless war machines over Afghanistan...

Here's how you can fight back for now... If your workday feel boring and repetitive; If your job mostly requires you to follow directions from clients or supervisors; If your job requires you to keep to well-defined processes and procedures... Then you can enhance your value as an employee beyond merely fulfilling basic tasks by injecting theose ingredients into your working-life that robots and software programmes can't do yet.

Be inquisitive... Don't settle for being told what WHAT you need to do; find out the the PURPOSE behind the activity.

Be imaginative... Do simply complete tasks on a checklist; explore if there's another way that'll fulfill the PURPOSE better.

Be daring... Don't blindly follow a process or procedure; question it and even dare to step-out-of-line if you feel a process is actually working against the PURPOSE.

Be human... ('Only human' usually taken to refer to people's weaknesses. Break that mindset - and stop using humanity as an excuse!) Don't think of co-workers as competitiors; they are cogs in the same machine you are in. With less friction, the whole machine works better. Be empathetic and considerate and they will reciprocate.

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