Listen to the doomsayers and they’ll tell you that technology is destroying jobs. By automating processes industries can replace many humans with a single computer. It’ll be cheaper and removes the possibility of human error.
“A collision of technologies, indoor plumbing, electricity and the affordable automatic washing machine have all but put paid to large laundries and the drudgery of hand-washing,” the report says.
It is also clear that technology has helped boost jobs in what the report calls “knowledge-intensive sectors,” where “the accelerating pace of communication have revolutionised” certain sectors. One of those is accounting, where rising wages have driven demand for financial services. The report states that in 1871 there were just under 10,000 registered accountants in England and Wales, and there are now over 215,000.
So which way will the trend continue? Will technology continue to create jobs, or continue to destroy them? In true fence-sitting style, I think the answer is somewhere in between.
There’s no doubt that those jobs listed above such as assembly line workers, bank tellers, public transit and taxi drivers, and telemarketers will continue to be replaced by cheaper and more reliable computers. But more specialist roles, where human interaction is paramount - think social workers, or emergency response crews, for example - will never be fully replaced by computers.
There will certainly be no stopping the march of technology, and the resulting changes like cheaper goods will be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it will mean more disposable income for many people, spurring purchases of leisure items, which will create demand for jobs to service those requirements.
On the other hand, we will be faced with many people seeing their jobs replaced by technology. However, the recent improvements in IT education across Europe mean that many more people will have the skills required to get jobs in industries that utilise technology, instead of being replaced by it.