You survived the Mayans, now survive the job cuts
So you survived the end of the Mayan calendar and a string of other apocalyptic forebodings in 2012. But as we look to 2013, how will you live through one of the more certain transformations on the horizon?
For most of us, our working life plays a big factor in defining who we are. I was talking to a smart and resourceful Generation Y woman the other day and mentioned I was going through my third round of redundancy in six months.
The last two times, unlike some of my dear friends and colleagues, I have been fortunate to be redeployed in another role matching my broad experience. I hope it will be third time lucky again in 2013.
Anyway, the woman in her 20s was recently made redundant from two part-time jobs and is now balancing two more part-time positions. This made me realise that for many of her generation a full-time permanent job has never been a reality.
Not since the Industrial Revolution has there been such a dramatic change in the means of production and in the job prospects of so many people.
Looking back on 2012, it has been an annus horribilis for many people employed in manufacturing, maintenance, the media and public service - among the sectors worst hit.
Thousands have lost their livelihoods and have had to reassess their future. The technological revolution, combined with the ongoing global financial crisis, has turned upside down people’s lives and the way businesses are run.
Rather than survival of the fittest, it has become a case of survival of the smartest. The demands of higher productivity, eliminating duplication of resources, technological innovation and cost-cutting have been part of a necessary reassessment of every business and government.
Jobs that were deemed essential a few years ago have become expendable and the remaining staff have been required to adjust to the new business models.
Many new jobs have arisen that require multi-skilling or a new set of skills, but the overall number of employees in many companies has been reduced.
With that in the forefront of my mind, I have decided to ponder the future adopting a 2020 vision of occupations that will not be needed.
So here is my prediction of 10 jobs that are likely to disappear by the end of the decade.
1. Supermarket checkout operators
The move towards self-checkout aisles will see the elimination of the need for checkout chicks or chaps. Some will be redeployed to keep an eye on customers to make sure they wave their purchases through the price scanner correctly, but the number of supermarket (and retail) staff overall will be greatly reduced. Time to check out of this job.
The writing is on the wall. Digital is already killing the newspaper stars in the media landscape. Printer and compositor jobs are in decline. If you are in this area of expertise it’s time to look for a new trade.
3. Newspaper sub-editors
As print media revenue dips to unsustainable levels and papers close around the world, the profession of the sub-editor (that’s the person who makes copy fit the space in the newspaper or magazine and writes the headline) will become obsolete. Digital multi-media will replace paper products and the role of the sub-editor will morph into a multi-skilled news producer or another title like that.
4. Telephone operators
Voice-recognition technology is still hit and miss and foreign call centres handle most of our phone calls to big companies. But by 2020 social media and text communication will replace the need to make a voice phone call. Many of the people in these jobs will become digital service consultants using an array of communication sources to connect customers. Talk is cheap, but technology is even cheaper.
“Phone blowing” will likewise become redundant as digital sales pitches replace the human telemarketer. At the same time, social media will promote relationship building with customers in a whole new way. Time to hang up your headset.
6. Film processors
The rapid uptake of digital cameras has already led to the closure of most film processing outlets. The same fate applies to film-based production of motion pictures. Any skill relating to film is on the cutting room floor.
7. Shoe craftspeople/repairers
These jobs are walking out the door. I have a comfortable pair of shoes I have owned them for 13 years. Every couple of years I get them resoled or reconditioned - they are still extremely comfortable. But as shoes become increasingly cheaper to make the cost of repairing or custom-making footwear will become unviable and this craft will die.
8. Meter readers
The trend towards making smart meters compulsory in all homes and businesses will make sending someone out to read a power or water meter redundant. The clock is ticking on this occupation.
9. Mail sorters
The traditional postal service is becoming more of a parcel delivery service as letter writing becomes a dying art and online shopping takes up a bigger chunk of postal resources. Watch the full automation of the mail sorting process finally end the role of the human.
10. Data entry
This job will completely disappear as innovations such as voice-recognition technology and data scanners replace the keyboard operator.
It’s a gloomy outlook for these occupations, but life is full of changes. The bottom line is we all need to be prepared to transform ourselves and boldly face the future. For those of you who have lost their job in 2012, my heart goes out to you. But remember for every door that closes a new one opens.
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