Future of Jobs In The World of Globalization and Automation

Future of jobs
Future of jobs

With globalization and automation by AI in near future, we always wonder what's going to be the future of our jobs. We will be contending not just with the people but also with machines in future. About the automation part, it is always said that people who can do complimentary work with machines can survive and rest of them will be replaced by automation. I am reading the book "The World Is Flat" by Thomas L.Friedman, which talks about jobs and who can survive in future. This book has been a great read so far and Friedman explains that this is not an age to be mediocre at a job. As globalization went from countries to companies to us - individuals, jobs will always go to the people who are the best or who are cheapest! If you are in India, you can't think that this is where it's cheapest - with increasing English speaking population in China and Russia, you will have the fiercest competition ever.

Here are the people whom Friedman calls "The Untouchables" - people who can and will survive in this competitive world:

Highly specialized people:

Great authors, musicians, top brain surgeon, etc all fall into this category. These people have a global market in general. Their work can't be imitated by a person or a machine.

Localized people:

This is speaking in terms of the big picture - the job category itself and varies over all ranges - high end like lawyer/dentist, vocational like carpentry/plumbing, low end like garbage collection/maid. These are jobs which you would want in your city. It doesn't matter to me if plumbing is cheaper in China. I need someone in my city to do the job.

The New Middle:

The jobs that were thought to be non trade-able in past ages are old-middle jobs like data entry/basic accounting/assembly line etc - which now go to the best and cheapest resources. The New Middle jobs are the new jobs taken up by the middle class people where they temporarily become specialized or localized - thus becoming The Untouchables- but only, temporarily. "In the New Middle, we are all temps", says Friedman. These jobs fall into the following categories:

  1. Great collaborators and orchestrators: 

    As companies go global, you need people who can coordinate with several units(horizontal collaboration).

  2. Great synthesizers: 

    These are the jobs that need knowledge of two or more disparate fields - for example, a software engineering writing code for the visualization of a human genome - you need to know both about coding and biology. An integrator may need to have an overall idea of how different units work and how they can be integrated together. 

    "There are dot people and the big picture people connecting the dots".

  3. Great explainers: 

    This is a side effect of the above synthesis of disparage fields - it becomes important for these things to be explained in simple terms to a layman like a client or a beginner who wants to learn. You can in fact see the raise of online teaching of everything and anything in Udemy, Coursera, edX etc. Though Steve Wozniak is awesome at what he does, it is Steve Jobs charm and presenting skills that wooed the fans.

  4. Great leveragers: 

    This is where everyone loves automation - leveraging the technology to make things run quick and smooth. But it's not just about leveraging machines, it's about leveraging people too - integrating the innovations to the system.

  5. Great Adapters: 

    These are the versatilists who have gained in-depth knowledge on a broad spectrum of things by constant learning and growing. They are the Swiss army knives. They keep moving across horizontally to learn the next big thing. 

    "The core competencies are [just] the entry-level requirements. What will keep you there is developing a broader view." 

    "Be an expert on three topics, but know that those three topics will always be changing.' So I try to have something that is my core bread and butter right now, another topic closely associated with  it, and then what I'm going to do next." 

    "They have to prepare like someone who is training for the Olympics but doesn't know what sport they are  going to enter."

  6. The green people: 

    With the rate of amount of damage we are causing to the environment, we badly need lot of people in this area who can come up with solutions for renewable energy sources and environment friendly systems.

  7. Passionate personalizers: 

    With everything being automated, as humans we still want that personal human interaction. In future, this may actually increase. These are the people who have pure passion for this and add their own personal touch to a plain vanilla job. Friedman talks about a lemonade guy who performs a little jig and high fives the person before handing them a lemonade. This is just like the Turkish ice cream vendors who attract lot of customers by the tricks they perform rather than by the ice creams they are selling.

  8. Great localizers: 

    These are the people who understand global trends and then localize that perfectly. These are in general small businesses that adapt to the global things - a coffee bar that provides free WiFi to keep the customers rooted, a small scale entrepreneur who sells his/her designs on Amazon, a local business who imports goods from across the borders etc. 

These are not the ultimate categories and new jobs keep emerging in future. Also, there is no clear division of any category. One person may play different roles.

A graphic artist who started selling just the concept/idea for companies instead of sketching the whole thing after the advent of photoshop etc has this to say-"And for these ideas they will still pay pretty good money. It is more like being a consultant rather than a JAFA (Just Another Fucking Artist). There are a lot of JAFAs out there. So now I am an idea  man,and I have played off that.My clients just buy concepts." The JAFAs then do the art in-house or it gets outsourced. "They can take my raw sketches and finish them and  illustrate them using computer programs,and it is not like I would do it, but it is good enough."

So, which category do you fall into?
Is your job easy to automate, digitize or outsource?


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