THE FUTURE OF JOBS? | …or unemployment and the basic global wage

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Is South Africa headed down a road of jobless growth where a capital-intensive economy is incompatible with a labour-intensive need?

According to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report reviewed in Forbes Magazine, 11 August 2017, there are about 71 million unemployed 15 to 24-year-olds around the globe, many of them facing long-term unemployment. This is close to a historic peak of 13%.

It is a problem which primarily hits low-income countries especially hard. Even where there is work, much of it is low-paying. The ILO estimates that about 156 million (or 38%) employed youth in emerging and developing countries were living in extreme or moderate poverty in 2016 – equivalent to less than $3.10 per day.

Coupled with that, is what I can only describe as a self-serving and the cynical call, by those who have deployed technology to their own benefit, the Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk’s of this world, who are calling for a ‘Global Wage’ which should be paid by Governments to their unemployed but employable citizenry, to stay at home as compensation for losing their jobs due to technology.

This, in the face of an ever-increasing problem, where internet-based technology is used as labour replacement by faceless, companies intent on skirting and avoiding residency in tax-paying countries.

So the questions which are begging for these Techno-Emperors to answer, are:

  • Who will fund these global wages you so eagerly call for?
  • Where will Governments find the money necessary to support the unemployed when you so obviously don’t intend on being the source of those benefits or paying your taxes compliantly?
  • Are you not the ones causing the problems but failing to compensate for the damage and havoc you wreak – the unemployment crises you create?

“Today, a fourth industrial revolution is transforming economies, jobs, and even society itself.

Under the broad title Industry 4.0, many physical and digital technologies are combining through analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to create digital enterprises that are both interconnected and capable of more informed decision-making.

Digital enterprises can communicate, analyse, and use data to drive intelligent action in the physical world.

In short, this revolution is embedding smart, connected technology not only within organizations, but also our daily lives.”

Punit Renjen, Deloittes

Capital vs. Labour Incompatibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

It could be argued that ever since the second Industrial Revolution, owners of Industry have been implementing capital-intensive processes working to replace what is basically an inefficient non-productive, costly and troublesome system founded on human labour, with that of an automated, continuous, self-reliant and importantly self-iterating and improving system, based on capital investment and a focused strategy of labour replacement.

Truth-be-told, a world based on technology and efficiencies is highly incompatible with one based on labour-intensive inefficiencies. These are the lessons learned in Europe, the USA and Asia and China of recent times.

Mistruths

The doyens of technology will blithely throw ideas such as ‘re-training’ into their justification, as if that is the panacea that will result in a job-for-job replacement strategy. However experience around the globe tells a different story. It talks about a marginal capacity for industries to absorb irrelevant dead-weight, where only a fraction of those laid-off are ever able to be re-absorbed as a result of having been re-trained and capacitated.

Ground Zero – where Civil War is spawned

Job creation from technology deployment in capital-intensive economies, is perhaps one of the greatest lies ever told, and willingly bought into by Governments. There is little compatibility between a capital-intensive economy and a labour-intensive necessity.

There is no middle ground or meeting point. It is obviously one or the other.

This is where WAR is inevitable.

Where will the final battle take place? That frontier that defines mankind and survival?

If the …


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Read this article by Dr Ivor Blumenthal, CEO, ArkKonsult (Consulting to business associations and professional bodies and corporates on BBBEE and People Development), as well as a host of other topical management articles written by professionals, consultants and academics in the June/July 2018 edition of BusinessBrief.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Dr Blumenthal,
    I read your article with much interest and comment as follows.
    In 1968 a senior engineer from Ford USA addressed the EP Society of Engineers. He stated that in order to get rid of troublesome labour from striking auto plants, Ford, GM and Goodyear planned by 2050 all their plants worldwide would be free of labour..

    Around the mid 70’s Ford’s manufacturing director started the Ford factory hives so that retrenched workers due to automation could become self-employed. Given to the Small Business Development Corporation who replicated it countrywide and in ten years it created over 500 000 jobs.

    As an engineer from Ford’s design office in 1985 Ford, GM, and Goodyear with Siemens joining later funded me to practically demonstrate my engineering plan on how to industrialise squatter camps, countrywide. On leaving SA the project collapsed as development funds dried up preventing taking the project to a commercial point where it could stand on its own.

    Since 1994 government convinced itself that Ford, GM, Goodyear and Siemens were incompetent. In 2004 Ford again reviewed the 1985 plans and confirmed to government that they would create the jobs needed. The presidency issues a statement confirming that Wits sociologists convinced government that the manufacturers were incompetent. Technically illiterate Davies also believes this .

    So as engineers we could have cracked poor development and job creation decades ago and leave you with this thought.

    When the Berlin Wall fell, a friend in Germany was part of the team sent to East Germany to review their factories. He said engineers were forced to take directives from technically illiterate Marxist sociologists and economists, consequently East Germany’s factories were useless.

    This is precisely what is happening in SA with Davies and October championing the rise of poverty and unemployment.

    Two weeks ago, a black business group with access to international funds offer to fund development. We have every intention to use the plans once developed to educate the jobless youth showing how since 1994 they have been forced into poverty deliberately through a technically illiterate Marxist driven government.

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