Whether you have a job or run your own business, the biggest question that you should always ask yourself is, “What do I need to do to stay current and ensure that my skills are always in demand?” Otherwise, given how fast technological advances and automation has simultaneously improved and disrupted our lives and job security, being complacent can leave you behind the information technology (IT) tidal wave and your job obsolete.
Many people are in awe, but some are scared, of the recent news that Amazon is piloting its new Go grocery store. Shoppers will be able to check in to their Amazon account with their phones, get automatically billed for the cost of goods as they grab items, and just walk out of the store without having to interact with a cashier. Some say this is brilliant. Others think this is bad news for cashiers, who have already seen some decline due to online shopping and self-checkout terminals.
Every new technology brings us one step closer to relieving humans from the burden of work, thus putting job security at risk. We can’t compete with the productivity of robots and machines in making processes more affordable and more efficient. In February 2016, the White House economists forecasted an 83% chance that workers earning less than $20 per hour will lose their jobs to robots. In addition, The World Economic Forum 2016 report says that disruptive technologies will destroy 7.1 million jobs across the world by 2020, with two-thirds of those jobs lost in office and administrative roles. It predicts that 2.1 million new jobs will be created from these technologies (a significant gap of 5 million) in fields related to computer and mathematical, and architecture and engineering.
I recently read a bestseller book, The Race for Work: Escape Automation, Transform Your Career and Thrive in the Second Machine Age. The author, Bhoopathi Rapolu, has put together in words what I had foreseen and experienced throughout my decade-long IT consulting career at one of the world’s largest consulting firm. Everyone who has a job, especially in IT, needs to read this book immediately and determine what changes they need to make to keep up with the trends or risk losing their jobs due to not staying current on building new skills to remain relevant and needed in the marketplace. As Rapolu states, “Productivity is for robots…Some technologies have become smarter to the extent that they can build on themselves, without human intervention. When these technologies can outsmart human capabilities, and can build on themselves further, humans are no longer needed in the game.” A great example that the author shares is the first artificially-intelligent lawyer that was hired in May 2016 by global law firm Baker & Hostetler. The robot Ross, built on IBM’s Watson, “can understand your questions, and respond with hypothesis backed by references and citations….it is constantly monitoring current ligation so that it can notify you about recent court decisions that may affect your case, and will continue to learn from experience, gaining more knowledge and operating more quickly, the more you interact with it.”
Check out the link to “Will a robot take your job?” that Bhoopathi provides in his book to determine the risk level of your job. (*Note – Statistics and data based in the UK.)
As a financial coach, I advise my clients to make changes to their spending habits and earning potential to break free from the “living paycheck to paycheck” mentality, because unforeseen circumstances like being laid off can have devastating effects on your ability to provide basic needs like food and shelter for your family, and ensure that you have money to support yourself in retirement. After reading this book, I am even more convinced that people need to do whatever they can to live within their means and build significant savings because they will either need to 1) Spend time and money to continuously learn new skills to keep up with the rapidly changing and redefinition of jobs or 2) Risk being laid off due to technology-led automation that has eliminated their job.
I found this statistic fascinating – Between the years 1969 – 1989, products and services that we used to pay for, that are currently available for free today, have a value and worth of more than $900,000. These items included products like video conferencing, GPS, digital voice recorder, camera, and music player. When we stop paying for these things, those companies go out of business and people eventually become jobless if they didn’t choose other jobs in time. Think about what items that your iPhone has replace in your home or office, including alarm clock, watch, notebook, and camera.
Given all the fascinating technological advances, but very real impact of automation, what can you do to increase your job security?
- Don’t assume your job or business is safe. (*There is no stable business today and your perception of stability is limited to the information you have access to.)
- Study your industry continuously and make sure you understand what success looks like. (*Keep in mind that the more established a skill is in the industry, the less noticeable it becomes, such as project management and customer support. When the output of your work becomes expected, reward and recognition may not be as great as before.)
- Learn and build new skills that will be needed in the future. (*You need to learn and specialize throughout your lifetime. Set aside money into an “Education Fund” and time to do this, even if your employer doesn’t provide the training.)
To sum it all up, be proactive and make sure you are in front of the IT tidal wave when machines outsmart humans, otherwise you risk being displaced out of a job.
What are your thoughts? Have you already seen how technology has started to shake up your industry and job security? If so, what are you doing it about?