I want (and you should, too) my kids to have tech jobs

Need WorkI have teenage step children and a four month old daughter. In the short 15 years between the birth of the teens and the infant, the world changed incredibly. The Internet arrived and software began eating the world at an even faster rate. This has me concerned about their employment prospects by the time both the first, but especially the last, get to the job market.

Heads in the sand

If anyone hasn’t noticed, the U.S. unemployment rate stands about 7%, well above the measurements of the early 2000’s before the global economic crisis hit. By most estimates, we’re a solid year into the recovery and yet the jobs of even four years ago aren’t coming back.

If we think this is a temporary thing, we have our collective heads in the sand. The economic downturn allowed employers to tighten their belts, rely more on technology, and focus on the most efficient parts of their businesses. The result? Higher productivity from doing more with less (not by choice then, but by choice now), automation of labor-intensive processes, and a reduction or shedding of the least competitive business divisions.

This is a trend that will only continue as clever business owners armed with the insight of surviving the past four years think differently about their workforce and the cost of hiring and maintaining employees.

Two-track economy

Jon Evans wrote in After Your Job Is Gone today on TechCrunch that we’re moving toward a two-track world of have’s and have not’s, with technology deployers and technology workers being the new upper class.

I want to stress again that this is only the beginning — that as software eats the world, as Marc Andreessen put it, this two-track economy will grow ever more divergent around the planet. The relatively few people fortunate enough to work in technology (or have the capital to invest in it) will grow steadily wealthier, even as more and more jobs around the world are replaced by software and drones and robots.

It sounds like tech is the place to be.

It’s an economic shift

As Andreesen says in his famous piece, “My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.” He’s absolutely right. Andreesen explains the timing this way:

Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.

Again, he’s absolutely right. This is the driving reason behind Mary Meeker’s recent report that shows U.S. technology companies are dominating the world tech markets. This will accelerate in the next five years.

Do we need more evidence?

This is why I want my kids to have tech jobs simply from maternal, protective instincts. I don’t want them to be out of work and suffering the paradigms of a new world that I agree is coming, sooner or later, and probably not for the better for most people. We live in world where it’s expected that everyone works…but what happens when there simply isn’t a workplace for everyone because machines do most things?

If I were to show my children The Graduate today…and let’s not fret the moral question of doing that (they can see much worse)…I’d dub over that famous line from Mr. Maguire to Ben (the young Dustin Hoffman): “Just one word: Technology.”

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Categories: Future of work, Technology, Workplace Reality

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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3 Comments on “I want (and you should, too) my kids to have tech jobs”

  1. June 1, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Jeanne,

    Great post about the future and its effect on our children. Usually our prognostications are much more dire than reality. However, our worry about the future and the future of our children is very real. That is likely what prolongs the human race.

    Technology doesn’t necessarily create two castes from which none can escape. Instead it can create opportunity for all. In the past couple of weeks I have talked to a couple of leading brand companies. In each, I was talking to their IT groups. To a person they had all been at their company for many years; most of which started with an implementation of SAP…seriously. One guy had been there for 16 years when they started implementing SAP, another person 12 years. Both of them thought they would probably retire while the ERP beast consumed their careers.

    The interesting difference was in how they saw this phenomenon. The first company saw it as career security. The second company as career suicide. The latter had gone so far as to change the name of their department as they could no longer head into a meeting with IT on their business card without their ‘customers’ turning up their noses.

    The tide is turning. It isn’t that technology is not a fantastic enabler. It is how people view that technology.

    If you are a provider you had better be about unlocking the capability of your customer. If you are a consumer it better be about how to unlock the ability of your position. Do all children require a tech degree; no. Instead I would say all children need to realize that the ability to define their future is in their hands. It isn’t what technology does to them as much as what technology can do for them. If any of my children end up cleaning toilets for a living; I hope they figure out how to do it better and that technology is their friend. If technology is their shield or their bane…they are headed down a dead end path that will yield little in their life.

    Perhaps that is the lesson to teach our children. Not titles and degrees but rather perspective and intent.

  2. June 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Thanks for your interesting comment, Steve. Personally, I want first and foremost for my kids to be happy. I suspect that security plays some part in that happiness, and for that reason I’m expose them to technology so that they have an informed choice to go that way or not.

  3. June 1, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    As much as I’d love to think this is the right answer sadly everything runs in cycles. They (the Govt) did the same in the UK when Blair was in power; push the technology agenda as skills for the future. Then there was a shortage of manually skilled workers, doctors, lawyers, COBOL programmers gave up their careers and retrained as plumbers and electricians and made their fortunes as the skills gap widened and the cost of these services soared.

    I can see a place for tech savvy plumbers, engineers etc using Glass and whatever tech comes around the corner in the future to enable and augment their jobs to be more effective and engaging but there will always be a place for them.

    Otherwise you’ll have a future that looks like Wall-E….

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