My family concentrated itself into three career fields: teaching, business, and raising the next generation. And then there’s me, but that’s a whisky-tale for another day. One of the aspects of my job touches on the business field of the future workforce and what has to be done for it to handle the technology, and it is instructive.
With advances in technology, having a human at the controls is becoming less and less a requirement. With up to 30% of the future, native-born workforce lacking even a high school education, in combination with the import of immigrants who lack even that much education, indicates a radically different America, perhaps even a radically different definition of what is a human.
There are some really good things about technology. With driverless cars, the blind and the elderly gain or maintain their mobility and independence. Yes, I know blind folk can climb mountains and take the bus and fly anywhere. But they may know more than we do the ubiquitous dependence of the American on his car.
I had a conversation some months ago with a technology manager in which I mentioned I’d managed to work myself out of a job. When asked why, I spoke about how outsourcing the design and administration of information technology through contracts with a Cloud Service Provider meant my employer was paying for two people to do the same job and the other person was far cheaper in the long run. I wasn’t the only person affected, there being a few hundred others now in the same boat. The man was shocked to the point that I believe I stunted him out of two years’ budget growth. I heard tale he later left his job, but I tend to doubt he’s on a mountaintop Ommm-ing his way to inner peace.
The very smart folks at the Rand Corporation present a pleasant picture of the future.
Future trends in technology, globalization, and demographics will support higher wages and are likely to affect the distribution of wages, just as they have in the past several decades. In the absence of a strong increase in the supply of skilled workers in response to the higher returns to education, wage dispersion — particularly as measured by the gap between more- and less-educated workers — will likely remain at current levels or even continue to widen.
Art Bilger, writing at Wharton’s Knowledge site, presents a far different picture.
Bilger: A study out of Oxford shows that we could lose 47% of all our jobs within 25 years … through a combination of globalization, automation and the fact that so many people don’t have the skills that will be required for those jobs. There are many corporations out there today who will tell you they have plenty of jobs they can’t fill. They are developing apprenticeship programs, things like that, to re-skill the workforce.
We know technology is improving, especially the trend in human simulacrum. We know that education is failing, with 30% of kids failing to graduate from high school plus importing immigrants who lack even that much education so that we’re increasing our permanent under-class; and even with the neo-luddite, isolationist trends represented by the Ronulans, Bernie Sanders’s nationalist socialism, and Trumpismo, America is going to have a very large group of people with no jobs, no prospect of jobs, and the covetousness for the lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.
Given these trends, where does VMI fit in all of this?