How do computers threaten jobs

Job killer: a real threat or a nightmare?

Some inventions turn out to be true Job killer. In Germany, for example, there is still fierce controversy about conventional energy supplies, for example in the form of coal. Not only the competition from low-wage countries, but also inventions in the field of photovoltaics have contributed to displacing the demand for coal in this country. It has been decided to phase out coal, so jobs in the coal industry, especially in mining, are not very promising. What does this mean for the employee? Which industries are particularly affected by job killers and what can you do?

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Job killer definition: what is it?

Jobkiller is a slang term for a machine, invention or facility that makes jobs superfluous.

The horror scenario: machines, robots, computers completely replace humans. These Fears are not new; the invention of the assembly line already predicted the end of work.

And if one believes the calculations of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), then it can be deduced that only in Germany four million employees could be replaced by computers. What if this continues?

There are two things associated with these fears. For many people work is meaningful, it structures the daily routine, people like to do what they do. But much more serious is of course the fear that a job killer will result in a job killer Army of the unemployed arises.

Because high unemployment is not just a financial challenge, it is social explosives, a state usually tries to keep it particularly low.

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Threat to jobs from inventions

Job killers are not a phenomenon of the big bad present or even the future, they have always existed. People have always made inventions that replaced old things and thus from the manufacturer of the products that were previously used required adjustment.

What is new, however:

  • The degree of specialization has increased.

    In turn, it makes it more difficult to adapt to the new conditions. For example, Stone Age people were able to switch from stone tools to metal tools with comparatively little effort, nowadays more effort is required to learn a new activity.

  • Change is happening faster.

    The 18th and 19th centuries are often referred to as the age of inventions because groundbreaking developments took place in many areas. The invention of the automobile, advances in medicine and physics, or new ways of transmitting messages through telegraphing and telephoning. The sequence of inventions is still different nowadays. Networking as a result of globalization and the invention of the Internet should make a decisive contribution to this.

In this context, the IAB speaks of a “new quality of technical developments”: In the past, it was more like one evolutionary processwhose developments could be accompanied and therefore foreseeable, future effects could be more disruptive.

Examples of job killers

The bugbear among job killers is the electric car. This has to do with the fact that there is a strong automotive industry in Germany. Changes in the construction of new types of cars therefore have an impact on large parts of the industry.

Forecasts by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization assume that one in three jobs could be lost by 2030. Because the manufacture of the electric motor requires fewer employees than the classic combustion engine.

Some supermarkets and furniture stores have already introduced cash registers at which the customer pulls his goods himself over the scanner and then paid. Cashier? Nothing. Instead, a security guard or retail clerk keeps an eye on customers to ensure that every item is actually scanned.

Jobs are of course also lost because of our comfort. The The consumer himself is a job killerby not going into town to shop anymore. Countless retailers are feeling the effects of e-commerce: bookstores and fashion chains are closing, but gastronomy and grocery stores are also suffering from the fact that consumers increasingly have food and groceries delivered.

On the one hand, this means there are no costs for Shopping and showrooms, as well as for staffthat has to clean and fill them and serve customers. On the other hand, there are unemployed salespeople, shelf fillers and cleaning staff, since they are no longer needed to the same extent as before.

Change winners and losers

Probably the most urgent question for employees: Am i concerned? Which industries are particularly struggling with job killers, which ones are spared? And what can I do if I am affected? What's next? It is already foreseeable that robots will control cars and trucks in the future; Tests with self-driving cars have been around for a long time.

The advantages from the employer's point of view: Robots don't tire, could work 24 hours a day, without breaks. Union achievements such as vacation, absence due to parental leave or illness are also eliminated.

In addition, it is possible to acquire knowledge to an extent that humans cannot cope with. The question is to what extent are robots, computers and automata one Support to what extent job killers? Scientists assume that robots will be used more and more not only in medicine, but also in (home) care and retail.

But these devices also have advantages for employees and consumers. Because robots, for example, also take over annoying and arduous workwhich would be rather harmful from an ergonomic point of view.

Roughly speaking, it can be said: wherever strong routine activities mark the workflow, old jobs will disappear and machines will take over. Robots are already performing tasks in the assembly of products and assisting bank employees and lawyers with simpler tasks.

Many future areas of application for robots or machines are, according to Horst-Michael Groß, head of the Neuroinformatics and Cognitive Robotics department at the TU Ilmenau, not yet imaginablealthough they will come. The other way around: Wherever highly specialized, less routine work is done, but also wherever interpersonal contact is necessary, machines will not be an adequate replacement for the time being.

Own industry affected: ways out of the crisis

First of all: It is not enough to tell yourself that nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked. Of course, it can be seen at a glance that there are many Fears not come true to have. That shouldn't be an excuse to sit back and relax, however.

As so often, it comes up the right amount on - neither alarmism nor lethargy. Especially since it could be shown that certain branches will be affected in any case. The unconditional basic income is far from being decided, and in what form, if at all, is just as unclear.

All the effects of digitization and thus the conversion to machines cannot be foreseen. Some futurologists and ergonomists assume that automation will not only eliminate old jobs, but also create new ones.

For example, the tax advisor is likely to be replaced by algorithms. On the other hand, new jobs, especially in IT, maintenance and the coordination of technology, are very likely.

You can do that:

  • Follow your passion.

    It must be stated that the world of work is changing. According to IAB researcher Britta Matthes, however, it cannot be answered with certainty for the next 20 years which jobs will still exist in the future and what kind of changes will take place. What she thinks is likely, however, is easier switching between different industries. This in turn means that young professionals should still look at what interests and inclinations they have instead of focusing on one job.

  • Stay active.

    The maxim of lifelong learning also applies to all other employees. Companies that increasingly rely on robots or automation should make their employees fit for the technical change. The training of new employees, but also the advanced training and retraining of employees, is of particular importance. The extent to which employees want to make themselves dependent on their company, however, varies from person to person. It seems safer to keep yourself up to date on changes in your own industry in order to be able to acquire the necessary additional qualifications.

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