Where Have All The Jobs Come From?

Technology in all its forms has been replacing jobs in the workplace for centuries. But employment is rising as more people find work. What is happening?

The age of machines

Computers and other machines have traditionally led to a demand for more people in manufacturing and other sectors.

It happened as automation engulfed the factory floor and the farmyard to replace industrial and agricultural duties.

Countless inventions have fruitfully swamped the workplace to carry out tasks previously done by humans yet the demand for workers has grown.

Jobs have been replaced by technology for an age and people adapted to new and different demands by developing new and different skills.

Entrepreneurs will always innovate and invent products and services that require more recruits.

The problem is the changing nature of work and the quality of jobs flooding today’s workplace.

At one end of the spectrum are well-paid jobs offering attractive perks and benefits; at the other end are poorly paid jobs that offer little.

The first style of job comes with a sense of inclusion and the expectation of a long and rewarding career; the second comes with the promise of little and the hope of less.

It offers low pay, little security, scant hours, endless frustration and a never-ending game of trying to catch up with a world that is simply moving too far and too fast.

In the meantime, millions of middle level jobs that sustained families and communities over generations are disappearing, as computers replace them beyond rescue.

The age of people

Similar scenarios have happened in the past as employees migrated to more rewarding occupations and easier lifestyles.

And it is happening again but in a different way as people struggle with an uncertain transition to a world of machines that are now thinking for themselves.

In the past, education was used to absorb those threatened by technology as people reacted to such personal and societal upheaval.

But on this occasion different thinking is required to address the traipse of technology as it grows to a scale and intensity previously unknown.

Many of today’s jobs were unimaginable only a decade ago and the jobs of our daughters and sons are similarly beyond imagination.

New ideas, new products, new services, new ways of doing things will create work in areas of activity that don’t yet exist.

Humans have always yearned for change and such yearning improves our ability to conjure a better life.

But the battle between man and machine will persist and the only solution is to reconcile what we create with how we manage.

So, technology has always created and destroyed jobs in unequal measure but finding the right balance will be crucial in the future.