As an aspiring entrepreneur, you might have asked yourself if you are likely to lose your job to technology and what the jobs of the future in Australia will be?
And many parents ask: “Will my children have a job in the future?”
The answers are “Child’s Play”. OK, that’s where the building block analogy stops.
People of my generation seem confused by talk of technology and startups and how they’re going to impact on jobs.
Some of this is scaremongering by outdated institutions with a vested interest in trying to preserve the status quo.
What really happens to jobs
The jobs are and will still be there in the future. It’s just changing the method of the types of jobs the next generations are going to be earning their living at.
When farm labourers in the late 19th century were replaced by automation in the agricultural space, thousands of new roles and jobs were created by the age of industrialisation in the automotive sector.
In the same way, today’s changes in technology will create new opportunities in the digital age.
Sometimes jobs tend to be in different locations but one type of job tends to replace another, not eliminate it.
Buying a house
Let’s have a look at a real world example of building a product or business by using the analogy of building a house.
Interestingly, the process of building a digital product, rather than a manufactured one, is remarkably similar to my example below.
As someone who knows a thing or two about houses, I’ll try to refrain from going into too much detail.
I am going to go into some detail, though, because every step in the construction of a physical house is similar to a new job in the creation of a digital product wrapped around a new business venture.
More jobs in the future
But it makes sense to give you some insights as to why I think there will be more – not less – jobs in the future.
Think back to when you bought your first house. Was it a new home, or was it built for you?
The likelihood is that you didn’t build it yourself, so you probably didn’t immerse yourself in all the steps. However, you might have had some input into the choice of carpets or colour of paint. Ok fellas, hands up for those who didn’t.
But the construction process of a new business is as detailed as the building of a house. It creates a great many more jobs than you might realise. Which is why the new digital economy is the fourth wave of industrialisation. And it’s so important.
Cast your mind back
At some point in the past, before your house existed, it was an empty patch of land. So someone had to imagine that your land could hold a group of houses, which in turn formed a community.
Someone had an idea – and they sketched out those plans, which got turned into a town planning drawings by draftsperson. They submitted them to a council – which employed councillors and staff – to approve them for subdivision. And someone had to sell that land to a building developer.
Those plans were sent to civil engineering companies – who also employed people to supply the water, power, gas, footpaths, roads, street lighting, drainage and other associated services.
Along the way, labour and materials like gravel, wires, pipes, steel and concrete were required to create the power, gas, water, roadway and footpath networks required.
You might also recognise that the suburb being created also needed the help of a whole lot of other infrastructure projects to build a community.
Train stations, roads, sporting grounds, shopping centres, libraries, kindergartens and schools to name a few. People were employed in the organising, planning and building of these.
And we’ve now only just got to the house
Now we need an architect, a surveyor, town planner, draftsperson, landscape architect, designers and civil engineers to design and connect the services. That’s all before we even engage a builder.
Time now for our excavations, foundations and basic services, which means more pipes, steel and concrete.
Finally we start to move on to the real construction process – with the help of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roof tilers, plasters, tilers and glaziers. This is all just to get to the point of having a building you can see.
Then it’s time to make it liveable. So, in come the parts that make it a home with appliances, kitchens and bathrooms, painters, carpet layers and similar.
Once the house is built, it requires an army of landscapers, pavers, driveway concreters, pool installers and a hundred other trades to make the house into an appealing home. Finally, someone has to sell it.
Are you starting to get the picture?
For every real world job, there’s an equal and equivalent job in the digital world across 100 new worldwide industries. They’re all crying out for people with the skills, smarts, learning and appetite to take them on.
While my dad had very little opportunity to learn how the basic computer worked in the 1980s, there were myriad opportunities the digital age was opening up even then.
Until the 1990s there was no such job as a web designer – after all, what do you need a designer for prior to the internet even existing?
Today’s world needs for digital designers, engineers, planners, architects, and the like – exactly as in the construction industry, whether we can see the need for them today or not.
Look to the past to see the future
The mechanisation of the agricultural industry didn’t stop the production of agriculture.
It deepened and enriched people’s lives because farmers were no longer stuck labouring outdoors in the elements planting or harvesting crops.
The age of the automobile fundamentally changed people from living, working and often dying within a few miles of where they were born.
That was about as far as a horse would take you in a day. Thanks to cars, they were easily able to travel 50-60 miles afield.
We now think nothing of getting on a plane travelling a half a world away in a day. Just a little over a 100 years ago, that sort of journey took months.
The first mobile phones were boxes attached to car batteries and bear little resemblance to the smartphones we carry in our pockets today.
Can we imagine the ways in which medicine can and might be delivered in 100 years time? Or 200 years time? Or how food will be created and cooked? Or how goods will be manufactured and delivered?
Change isn’t new
Building a house is a little bit different every time because:
- Problems are encountered and overcome.
- Styles, methods & materials change.
But the basic methods of building a house, or creating the future are still pretty much the same. We still build houses by putting one brick on top of another.
Technology isn’t some sort of utopia of a promised land, or panacea that will cure all ills. Nor do I think it’s likely to be some terrible dystopian land of killer robots walking the earth amid the desolation of mankind.
It is the path to discovering how to solve and redress the messes that we and our proceeding generations have created.
So, it is imperative that we find ways for the next generation to embrace this digital age in a way that we ourselves might not ever understand.
The future is just a place, like a house that becomes a home, where our children and their families will call home sometime.
Our opportunity is not to fear it, but rather to embrace it in a way that sets the example for our children to follow in our footsteps.
What if technology does happen to cause your industry to shift? It will be a wonderful example to set for your children if you show you can change with the times, rather than moan about how things used to be better.