Youth tends to gravitate to where the jobs (read money) are. With the exception of a few talented souls who are clear where their calling is, the majority follow the hype into fields such as advanced management degrees or computer engineering. The result? Well, gazing into the crystal ball reveals a world where there are few jobs, too many applicants, and falling labour costs! Not to mention, an even more widening income gap between the rich and the poor.
The other worrying trend is just how rapidly technology is substituting labour on the one hand while people are living longer on the other.
Turning the crystal ball away from the gloomy picture, one finds hope. Only thing is one has to reach for that brighter future!
Here are some thoughts on planning for employment generation. And warding off doomsday scenarios of joblessness giving rise to a second French Revolution where the poor storm the bastille of the rich to behead them.
Come on, let’s do some crystal ball gazing!
The trick is to spot where trends are going and thereby develop a strategy to grow employment.
Future Trending #1
It’s a world where technology has virtually replaced all menial jobs. Drones deliver pizzas. Robots advice shoppers on fashion apparel as they traverse the aisles of a garment store. Computers guide boys and girls on the latest hair styles and what will suit their faces. Intelligent homes take care of all routine chores with refrigerators doing inventory management and transmitting a grocery list to the nearby store for delivery, robots cleaning and dusting, and computers chiding children into shutting off that video game and doing their school work instead.
It’s a world where people will find more time on their hands. What will they do? Why, they will increasingly get bored and restless. And then, they will begin to ponder on the great mysteries of life and turn to philosophy, psychology, the arts and crafts et.al. Great future there for psychiatrists, philosophers, spiritualists, mystics, artists and entertainers. The popularity of TED talks is an early indication.
Future Trending #2
In the search to understand life better, travel and tourism will boom. Asian countries will be in a good position to cater to the demand as the West looks to the East for its known mysticism. Ancillary industries marketing ancient arts and crafts will prosper. On an aside, if I were the Indian government, I would begin now and plan for a robust manufacturing sector of handmade Indian crafts. The time is ripe for a revival of ancient Indian skills displayed on the walls of many a temple and mosque. I would organize the unorganized sector and create another Amul story in co-operative marketing. Cleverly planned, it will reduce the burden on groaning urban infrastructure by boosting the rural economy and giving the rural populace a good reason to stay at home. Technology allows for distance marketing. Why not use it? Why not challenge the conventional wisdom of urbanization? Is anyone in the Narendra Modi government listening?
Future Trending #3
The population in many parts of the world is greying. They are being forced out of the labour force. Think! Their techniques may be outdated. Their energy may be flagging. But what they do possess is an abundance of wisdom and experience. Can the grey hairs be put to good use? I can imagine corporates employing retired people to counsel the work force on the job as a mentor and guide on navigating life. I can also imagine retired people being trained in arts and crafts to add to the market supply. Using their hands will ward off many a physiological illness and more important, give them a feeling of self-worth. Best of all, I would harness all that life experience and employ senior citizens as teachers, counsellors and story-tellers of life. A grand revival of the oral tradition in story telling. Such opportunities will not only make older people feel wanted and useful, it will give young children the benefit of grandfatherly or motherly guidance right through early school.
Future Trending #4
As the population greys, health care professionals will be in great demand and short supply. Sure, technology will allow doctors to monitor the health of their patients remotely. But that will only take care of physiological well-being. What about the psychological? What about the loneliness? I can see many an elderly patient asking for a human hand and companionship. And welcoming a young, compassionate person into their homes or hospice room. Will there be a vocation here? Can young people be channelised into such a career?
Future Trending #5
With intelligent homes, long-distance education, robots everywhere automating life as we currently know and live it, will we need technicians to bail us out when the technology grid collapses on us? Will there be a market opportunity here for smart entrepreneurs to offer home technology and security service contracts? Will such service providers replace the domestic help function as we now recognize it?
These are just 5 possible scenarios that I have imagined. I am sure they are more.
The question I have is how actively are governments world over planning for the job market of the future? Or, are they simply leaving it to free markets and capitalists?
I wouldn’t! It is the responsibility of the government to shape policy and secure the livelihoods of their people. For that, think tanks need to imagine the job markets of the future and then guide youngsters into acquiring the skills to be future ready.
To quote John Lennon, “They may say I am a dreamer.” I may be but I would like to invite the economists, the sociologists, the think tanks and governments everywhere to join me in this dream. And to challenge current thinking about the organized sector being more important than the unorganized one!
Featured Image Credit: Universe in my hands by Lauro Roger McAllister (Creative Commons license, Flickr.com)