Two other blows to the "automation will give you better jobs" myth

Upskill yourself! Quick! The world WANTS you!

Two other blows to the "automation will give you better jobs" myth /img/new-year-new-me.jpg

Don’t be lazy! There are plenty of jobs better than the one you (maybe) have. Look at this report about the Growing Skill Divide in the U.S. Labor Market, for example. It discusses how “the skill composition of the U.S. labor market has shifted” in 2017, and what to do about it.

The most interesting, oh-so-unexpected finding of that report is the fact that “the fastest growing occupational groups are cognitive nonroutine and manual nonroutine”. I hereby label the first group as C-NR and M-NR.

If that is not enough, look at this newer (2018) article about the Widening Skill Divide in India: “Jobs will certainly be created, but in new areas.”. All the existing workforce needs to save itself from automation is “reskilling and upskilling, not just to follow but TO LEAD”.

Which jobs?

Let’s have a closer look at which jobs “will certainly be created”.

The US report correctly highlights that there is a “stark contrast between the skill requirements in the C-NR and M-NR groups”.

C-NR requires complex decision-making and independent working conditions. It seems certain to me that C-NR jobs are jobs based on those based on what that the indian article calls " not just to follow but TO LEAD". More explicitly, C-NR jobs consists of being leaders, either of other workers, or in competence.

M-NR jobs, instead, require quite a bit of physical effort, but not a “high level of cognitive tasks”.

If the majority of jobs falls in the C-NR or M-NR fields, this “results in a polarization in the labor market”, between:

  • (already?) skilled employees able to face C-NR challenges, and
  • entry-level employees that are physically strong enough for M-NR tasks

OK. But What is a leader, anyway?

A leader, says the dictionary, is a person who:

  • manages or controls other people
  • “is the first or the most important” in his or her field

A leader, in other words, is whoever can do well any kind of C-NR job.

And the plain English version of all this is…

  1. If you are not born with the skills to be a leader, or if you lack the physical strength and attitude to be a nurse, or any decent “manual nonroutine group”… tough luck for you. Try upskill that
  2. ABOVE ALL: Even if everybody could upskill themselves to leadership… WHAT WOULD THAT SOLVE?
Two other blows to the "automation will give you better jobs" myth /img/highlander.jpg
Let's upskill everybody to become a leader NOW! No, wait...


Non-hierarchical workplaces are a joke. There can only be FEW jobs as leaders. VERY few. By definition.

Software is not looms

Two other blows to the "automation will give you better jobs" myth /img/luddites-smashing-looms.jpg

For everybody of working age today, the promises of better jobs by “industry 4.0” are a just scam. All the reports about upskilling and leading do little but prove it. Software is not mechanized looms.

A technology that leaves room only for jobs that:

  • will never be needed in large numbers
  • requires, in no negligible amounts, genetic “mental wirings” that most human beings simply lack

cannot provide enough jobs for everybody who is supposed to be earning a salary today, or in the next FEW decades. The challenges are to stop believing that it could be otherwise, and to see this as an opportunity, not a problem.