Does advancing technology hurt jobs prospects for the long term? Although in the short term advancing technology does indeed make some jobs obsolete, the additional productivity then leads to reduced costs. In turn, this enhances the creation of wealth – we all want to become wealthy – and improves long term economic growth.
Economic advisor Clark Howard says “If you look back at the 19th century in American history, something like 90% of Americans earned their living in agriculture. There was enormous fear that the mechanization of agricultural work would lead to massive unemployment and starvation. The reality is that as we mechanized it completely changed the nature of work. People were forced to switch to jobs.”
It is likely that the work that your grandfather performed, maybe even your father, no longer exists. As technology advances, the job market changes. These changes require us as individuals to stay abreast of those changes and advances. My father was a telegrapher for the railroad and later for Western Union. Although a high-tech job in its time, that job no longer exists.
Advancing technology has the ability to create entirely new industries and create new types of work never before even imagined.
The computer, in terms of history, is but an infant. Yet the changes that have occurred are almost impossible for us to imagine. Efficiencies and enhanced productivity abound as the result of the computer. We have new industries, and types of work, that were unimagined just a few years ago.
Consider for example that of the “Top 10 Jobs Of The 21th Century” as published by author Claire Gordon, you find Computer Systems Analysts, Software Developers, and Systems Software Developers as well as Application Software Developers. These jobs were nonexistent 30 years ago. And what new job titles will there be 30 years from now?
Three countries lead the world in research and development. They are the United States, Japan, and Germany. France and Great Britain follow, although not very closely. From this we learn that the USA, Japan, and Germany are overwhelmingly the major sources of innovation in the world economy. More than half of the growth on the globe was driven from innovations created in these three countries, according to Jonathan Eaton at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Michael Malone writes in a Wall Street Journal article titled, “The Sources of the Next American Boom,” that Nanotech, 3-D printing, and cloud computing are among the new and emerging technologies that will continue to alter the job market in the future.
Nanotech: Although nanotechnology has been around for several years, it is now coming the into its own. Malone says that nanotech is responsible for breakthroughs in medicine, genetic research, new materials such as grapheme, molecular electronics, and quantum computing. Further, Malone says “the range of emerging applications for nano materials is so wide-ranging and important that, together, they suggest an impending turning point in high technology as important as silicon and integrated circuitry were a half century ago.”
With cloud computing, data management shifts from individual devices (computers, phones, etc.) to remote Internet servers, thus allowing access to software and data from any device.
3-D Printing is a revolution in the print concept that highlights three-dimensional printing technology that is utilized in everything from architecture to machines to human beings.
R&D and product innovations can create jobs in entirely new industries. Industries that were not even in one’s imagination only a few short years ago. To maximize the expanding employment influence of technology and the changes that it brings, workers must be able to move from sectors of declining labor demand to those in which employment opportunities are expanding.
As R&D expands technology, and technology expands new opportunities, it behooves us to do our best to keep up with the changing world of technology. If we aren’t keeping up, we are automatically falling behind. But our economic future as workers, and as a country, demands that we maintain a level of learning throughout our lifetimes. As new opportunities and new industries and new jobs are created, you will be better prepared than the individual who ignores the onward march of change.