Is Technology Destroying Jobs?

Economists are concerned that machines are slowly replacing man at the workplace. The idea of technology destroying jobs, as opposed to creating them is riddled with controversy. On the one hand, technology accelerates operations by saving time and valuable resources. On the other hand, it renders certain jobs obsolete as organizations increasingly rely on computers to accomplish certain tasks. In this case, robotics and automation is connected with structural unemployment.

A number of economists such as Bryjoljsson and Mcfee (2012) opine that the reason why employment growth has somewhat slackened for the past 10 to 15 years is due to the sensational advances in computer technology. They argue that automation, software and robotics have been replacing human labor at a very rapid rate.

In contrast, the education system has not kept pace with the advances in technology is terms if equipping potential employees with the necessary education and human skills. Most organizations have also failed to make adjustments to the workplace so that operations, processes, procedures and business models are accommodative of advances in technology. In this way, these technologies have led to massive loses of jobs, more than they have helped create.

Other economists like Brian (2011), writing for the McKinsey Quarterly, argue that digitization has led to the development of an automatic, invisible, and vast ‘second economy’ that is threatening to phase out the physical economy. This report is an attempt to answer the research question, Is Technology Destroying Jobs? To do so,  the report will begin enumerating the economic benefits of advances in technology, such as digitization or automation. The report will argue that digitization or automation has helped to increase efficiency, reduce operational costs, and minimize working time. The controversy surrounding this issue will also be examined. The report will also examine the downside of advances in technology, especially in regards to lost jobs.  Finally, the report will try and offer valuable recommendation for adoption by companies such as Acheles, a technology-based company that is involved in the development of software applications.

impact of technology on job

 

The impact of Technology on Knowledge Workers

A knowledge worker is a person that makes a living through the development of knowledge. An example of a knowledge worker is a person that works at planning tasks, acquires, analyses, searches, organizes, stores, and programs, among other activities, in order to positively contribute and constitute a change in information commerce, and in the lives of other people that work in the same institutional level. This is a term that was first used by Peter Drucker in reference to people who are good in tasks such as programming.

You may also read: How do UK Universities prepare students for future jobs

Other examples of knowledge workers, based on Drucker’s definition include system analysts, academic professionals, and researchers, among others. There are vast amounts of knowledge in the working field and as such, novel discoveries are arrived at on a daily basis. As such, it is imperative that knowledge workers retain and maintain the knowledge that they have. Among the various ways that knowledge workers are able to use technology and benefit from it is through the free access approach and via the structured approach (Sizemore 2013).

The free access approach involves the ability of the knowledge workers to freely receive information and knowledge that would ably equip then in the execution of their tasks. As such, the use of the internet and establishment of knowledge management systems in organizations as well as the social media benefit these groups of people with both private and public information. Similarly, they are able to draw conclusive evaluations through use of qualitative tools and structured data.

Is technology threatening jobs?

The use of technology has been widely integrated into the business arena. As a result, occupying the many jobs that were initially executed by humans. Thus, it is no news that computers and other forms of automatic machines have replaced the need for human workers in the running of both operational and transactional tasks (Bill 2000). As such, most industries have integrated the use of technological innovations. For example, the application of automated teller machines (ATMs) has limited the number of tasks that were initially handled by bank tellers. Additionally, most of the checkout lines employed is continuously replacing the need to scan commodities purchased. However, it is not very easy to ascertain whether technology is actually replaced jobs previously undertaken by humans (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2014). This is because there are other variables to be considered while evaluating the phenomenon.

While it is true that technological innovations have replaced human labor, they have also ease the degree to which most of the tedious chores could be executed. For instance, the development of novel technology requites human thinking and contribution in all aspects of research, construction, maintenance development and repairs. It is also the same human minds that come up with the operation knowledge of the machines and equipments.

Technology is influencing the present kineconomic world. The modern array of technologies in the present world act tremendously in enabling the hyper elasticity of transactions that are to be handled financially. As such, government entities, investors and corporations are able to modify, demand and offer both their relative prices and aggregated weights in the global platform.

The financial markets are thus reverberating through technology as most of the economic agendas, the dent in Europe and the strength of the Japanese currency is easily exposed (Bill 2000). Therefore, the wide spread use of technology facilitates easy management and efficiency in the management of teams that are scattered all over the world, just as would happen in a regular office. This is highly advantages to those that have leveraged on the purchase of both financial and capital securities from one location of the world to the other.

Technology facilities the general movement of goods, people and capital. Technology is the leading factor as to why trade and labor migration takes place in the contemporary world. Most workers in under developed countries are switching jobs to expertise jobs overseas. However, this chain of movement if further accelerated as these experts moves from developed countries requiring skills and diplomas to those that have a wide exposure in technological systems and proper internet facilitation (Bansac 2011). Consequently, the value of both the social welfare and global economy is destroyed leading to the destruction of many jobs than it could possibly create.

On the other hand, technology is essential to the activities of daily lives. Every day, technology aids in the creation of novel services while also perfecting the old ones. For instance, new start ups such as the Silicon Valley (Bansac 2011) .This and other developments in the capital industry are proving to be the new developments just like the internet boom, with the ability to withstand the global depression. However, novel developments will further impede on the behaviors of people, their processes, their businesses and the level of both financial transactions and investments they choose to undertake. As such, the imposed use of technologies like e-commerce and cloud computing will be the new trends in the industry (Bansac 2011). Consequently, the number of human jobs in developed economies will substantially be reduced. This might lead to limited demand that could ably facilitate the re-awakening of the already shaken economical conditions.

The convergence of technical trends is a form of job destruction. In the United States, a number of technologies have converged making the threat of job destruction more immediate. As a result, equivalents of 47 % of the jobs in the United States are at high risk of being outdated following computerization (Bansac 2011). One research has estimated that, by the year 2025, most of the knowledge work productivity gains could amount to about 40% of the current jobs in these fields. This is ranging from the clerical jobs to professional jobs (Bansac 2011). A familiar technological trend is the advent to decreased costs of computing power. Subsequently, these advances will amount to greatness leading to curiosity regards the power of smart machines.

There is a contention as regards the effects of technology on labor. One is that technology is able to master language and as such, facilitates cognitive computing. The second thought is that through the new devised ways of interacting with computers gadgets, non technical human are able to work on complex tasks with the aid of the machines. A good example would be the smart phone (Bansac 2011). Consequently, technology has facilitated the availability of a vast amount of digital data. As a result, machines are able to evaluate and deduce information that previous machines could not be able to. Therefore, this has facilitated the development of user friendly systems and the anticipation of user needs (Bansac 2011) . Such services include the Siri question and Answer application and the Google now service that facilitates this option (Bansac 2011). Owing to these applications, it is inevitable that two things will likely happen in the future. One, that machines will take up the boring jobs initially allocated to humans making them more available to supply other advanced tasks. On the other hand, it is inevitable that the humans and machines will become less harmonious in task executing making the human more like scrap objects.

Moreover, not only does technology improve lives but also threatens the livelihoods of many workers. A paradox associated with technology is that it tends to improve the lives of people yet at the same time act detrimentally towards the many people that are employed (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2014). Technology is advantageous to performing tasks effectively and in a time efficient manner. However, it is the inability to create other employment opportunities that threatens job security.

On the other hand, any dynamic employee is able to learn new technological developments. This is to imply that they are not threatened at all as they have the capability to reinvent their capabilities. It becomes threatening to employees only when they are not able to reinvent their skills and abilities forcing them to be labeled as lower grade employees or worse still, be laid off. On the other end, there are more viable recruits and retained workers that have the ability to take up the positions of the inexperienced laid off staff. Consequently, more jobs are created and the economic cycle keeps revolving (Heeks 2013). However, this has become a challenge as the contemporary industrial society is not able to re-invent the lost opportunities following the case of an identity crisis.

The problem linked to this is that contemporary technologies are evolving very fast that the number of jobs created are less as compared to the rate of outsourcing and globalization are minimal. The ever evolving technology implies that the traditional workers of the company are no longer able to ably compete in the global market. More so, there is a probability that other jobs could still not be created even if the workforce was highly dynamic. As a result, the number of blue collar employees in the economy would be majorly minimized as only a third of the American population have had the opportunity to attain a college degree (Heeks 2013). The situation has further been worsened by the exploding higher education costs.

Controversies

Advances in technology have resulted in enormous value creation. Besides the resultant increase in productivity, individual technologies and the wider technological advancement has also led to an increase in our collective wealth. On the other hand, it is important to note that computers, just like other forms of technology, demands parallel innovations in skills, business models, and organizational structures and processes. Even as the foundation of our economic system postulates a strong association between job creation and value creation, this is either breaking or has been weakened, as evidenced by the Great Recession (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2014).

The rapid advances in technology have led to a radical rise in the productive capacity of the economy. On the other hand, we need to appreciate the fact that not everyone is a beneficiary of advances in technology. Some skill groups of workers have really benefited from recent advances in technology in various fields. These individuals are earning very high incomes in comparison with the other employees.

Other workers have not been so lucky, and this has resulted in stagnation in employees’ median income. Some have even lost their jobs because their skills have been rendered obsolete by technological advances (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2014).  However, we should not be too quick to blame such stagnation in median income on technological advances; rather, we should lay the blame on our institutions and skills because they have failed to keep pace with advances in technology. The funny thing is that when technology renders certain skills obsolete, workers can still find their skills useful in another field. Whereas this may have worked in the past century, it may no longer work in the current 21st century where advances in technology are taking place at neck-breaking speed.

Recommendations

If at all the company is to deal with the threat posed by technology in terms of threatened loss in human labor, it needs to first increase its quality and rate of organizational innovation and secondly, it need to enhance its human capital.

Fostering organizational innovation

Acheles needs to execute a strategy in which man compete, literary, with machines, by embracing organizational innovation. This will involve co-inventing new business models to replace the company’s existing business models. The existing organizational structures at the company also need to be realigning in line with this strategy, while the current processes requires being co-invented. All of these transformations are geared towards leveraging human skills and the ever-advancing technology. 

Creative entrepreneurs should take the polarization of job growth and the stagnation of medium wages as a very good opportunity to come up with novel business models that integrates cheap but advanced technology with the burgeoning number of semi-skilled workers, with a view to creating value. Although this is a very bad time for humans to even contemplate competing with machines, on the other hand, a talented and innovative entrepreneur would also see it as the most ideal time to adjust that. Digital technologies provide huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to apply their dispersed and unique knowledge in an attempt to salvage the economy. Innovation usually depends on integrating previous innovations and as such, the deeper and broader the pool of individuals and ideas involved in an innovation, the more chances for its success.

Increased investment in human capital

Technology seems to be moving swiftly at a neck-breaking speed.  If at all we are to keep up with such a pace, this calls for organizational innovation spearheaded by entrepreneurs. However, the second most vital requirement is to ensure that the company has invested adequately in human capital. As such,  Acheles should invest in human skills and education necessary to reap maximum benefits from the racing technology. Sadly, our education system has not kept pace with the progress in technology, and this is evident in the fewer number of jobs created and the stagnating wages. However, we are at an ear where the educational sector need not lag behind anymore. The onus is on educators to embrace digitization, experiment with and monitors alternative approaches. In addition, educators need to identify and assess what works and what does not work. The best approaches should then be replicated across the country. In this way, organizations and the economy at large will benefit from an enhanced level of innovation, resulting in enhanced improvements in the productivity of our education system.

The incorporation of information technology (IT) in the education system would also help to significantly increase the customization and scale of education.

Educators should also consider combining local tutors and teachers with software, videoconferencing, and networks. Specifically, such softer skills as team building, creativity and leadership would be of immense benefit if it was integrated into the existing curricula. This is because chances of automating such softer skills are very slim. Also, these areas are in very high demand in the modern-day entrepreneurial and dynamic economy.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that technology has played a key role in developing the global economy. Not only has the automation of processes helped to save time and financial resources, but it has also led to faster operations. However, increased technology, and more so in the field of IT, is posing a threat to human labor. As the business world becomes increasingly competitive, companies have been forced to implement the latest advances in technology in a bid to gain a competitive advantage over their business rivals. Consequently, most operations have been automated with the result that we now have more machines and computers at most places of work than human labour. However, all is not lost for employers. It is still possible to compete with machines in a bid to ensure that human labor is not replaced entirely. First, there is need for the company to improve its human capital by investing in the education and human skills of its employees.  Educators should also consider teaching leadership, teamwork and creativity skills as these areas are less likely to be replaced by technology and they also happen to be in high demand. Also, educators should consider combining tutors and teachers with IT based programs such as videoconferencing. Another strategy is to increase organizational innovation by reinventing the existing business models, structures and processes to remain in tune with the latest technology.

Reference List

Bansac. F. Nov 21, 2011. Kineconomy: technology threatening jobs. Retrieved from:

http://www.kineconomy.com/unemployment/technology-threatening-jobs

Bill, J 2000. Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us. Wired Magazine, April 2000, viewed 07

May 2014, < http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html>.

Brian, AW 2011. The Second Economy, viewed 07 May 2014,

< http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/the_second_economy>.

Brynjolfsson, E & McAfee, A 2011.  Race against the Machine: How the Digital

Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly

Transforming Employment and the Economy. Lexington, Mass.: Digital Frontier Press.

Brynjolfsson, E & McAfee, A 2014. Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity

in the Time of Brilliant Technologies. [S.l.]: W W Norton, 2014.

Heeks, R 2013, ‘Information Technology Impact Sourcing’, Communications Of The ACM, 56, 12, pp. 22-25

Sizemore, C 2013. Will Technology Make Us All Jobless?, viewed 07 May 2014,

<http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2013/10/11/will-technology-make-us-all-jobless/>

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