The (Unintended) Consequences of Technology

In Spring ’87 I watched a film in my Management college class.

It’s premise: How do you motivate a line worker on a factory floor, who is spending his day in repetitive tasks?

I am pretty sure I don’t need to say how absolutely irrelevant this question is today.

Any line worker, likely, feels massive grateful to have whatever job he has, given the upheaval in Manufacturing that has taken place over the last two decades.

Technology has replaced so many jobs;  it’s a bit sobering to stop and really consider the scope of change.

Have mundane tasks been replaced by technology advances? Sure, but at what cost to our labour landscape?

Line workers now have to have advanced technical skills, and they need to have them before they are even considered for a position; forget about an employer providing on the job training, those days are over.

Other unintended consequences: Bank Tellers, Ticket Agents, Insurance Actuaries, Stock Brokers.

This results in a bifurcation of workers in demand:

1) Either incredibly highly specialized jobs, in which a candidate is expected to be able to hit the ground running with no ramp up time, or:

2) Menial jobs that we haven’t figured out how technology can do, but would be the ones we’d most benefit, as a society, if technology could perform them: Cleaning, garbage collecting, yard work, harvesting.

White Collar Generalist? Mid-Level Manager?   Companies are eradicating these positions as they compress hierarchy and/or embrace technology at the expense of a thinking human.

What will these professionals do to replace the work they used to do?

More significantly, what are you doing to ensure that, if your current occupation is replaced by technology (or outsourced, or offshored), that you have a place to land?

Very few of us are immune from this reality: It’s absolutely critical to find and get ready for your next life phase before it arrives .

This may mean investing in continuing education, a career coach, or a personal trainer (don’t negate this too quickly; keeping your stamina and energy levels up as well as staying healthy will keep ageism at bay in the workplace)….you likely can’t go wrong with any of these.

Whilst we often have no control over larger forces taking place regarding our jobs, we can anticipate the changes and have a contingency plan in place.