News 24 recently reported about Standard Bank’s intention to lay off 528 employees. This huge lay off is the result of increased digitization and the use of artificial intelligence in the banking industry.
The trade unions are understandably highly upset, yet their spokesperson said that they realise that some jobs over time will disappear whilst new ones will be created. Unfortunately fewer jobs will be created than the ones being made redundant.
According to Standard Bank the 528 employees are welcome to apply for 349 existing and new jobs available. This means a net deficit of 179 jobs in an economy where unemployment has already reached unprecedented levels.
Yet, this is a text book example of economic forecasts made the past decade or two. Jeremy Rifkin, although labelled a pessimist, wrote in his book The End of Work (1996) how technology would lead to large scale job shedding and fewer jobs being created by these same advanced technologies.
Job shedding due to technological advances is nothing new.
During the first industrial revolution (18th &19th century) the steam engine played a central role in turning a mostly agrarian economy to become more urban and industrial.
Then during the second industrial revolution (± 1870 – 1914), steel and oil industries used electrical power which lead to technological advances such as the telephone, the light bulb and the internal combustion engine.
The third industrial revolution started in the 1980s and lead to technological advances such as the personal computer, the internet as well as information and communications technology. Many jobs were then created in the service industries.
But now with the fourth industrial revolution, advances such as moving from agrarian- to industrial- to service economy, is no longer an available option. Jobs are now replaced by robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles. This means services being replaced by just more technology.
# While the first three were characterized mainly by advances in technology, the underlying basis for the fourth industrial revolution lies in advances in communication and connectivity rather than technology.
This means that the way we live, work and relate to one another, will change.
People need jobs
But where will people work to earn a living. With fewer people employed, less money is earned that can be spent by the growing population. Perhaps you can produce more with more machines and fewer workers, but who will buy that produce if there are not enough people earning money.
According to Rifkin a kind of post-market economy may develop where the emphasis on the social and welfare sector may become increasingly important. I think this is already evident in our economy. The term “non-governmental organization” (NGO) was first coined in 1945, when the United Nations (UN) was created. Today it is estimated that there are about 10 million NGO’s worldwide.
Personally I believe the only other way to ensure employment is to consider working for yourself. Thirty years ago the unemployment rate in South Africa was approximately 7%, where at present it is more than 27% and growing.
If you cannot find a job, nobody forbids you to create your own job.
Perhaps the Apostle Paul had something similar in mind when in 1Thes 4:11-12 he wrote “… aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, … that you may lack nothing.”
Should you consider working for yourself, consider a Career Direct Assessment to determine what kind of business will be your best match.
Also tune in to my radio program “Jy die Entrepreneur” Monday evenings at 20:00 and Saturdays 12:30 on Radio Namakwaland www.934fm.co.za.