Future jobs killer…

Monday, February 20th, 2012 - 5 steps to employment, Blog, career management, career planning, career transition, Careers Advice, Employment


Future jobs killer…

Bad afternoon

One of the key issues when selecting which jobs to apply for, is to know what new technologies are coming down the development track.

When testing a market for employability, our guide has always been to look for 50 jobs. You can get employed with less, but 50 says bouyant employable market. The example I always give is carriage driving:

  • In the 1890s, there would have 50 great jobs
  • In 2012, only if you are near Central Park New York, or know Prince Philip, will there be a carriage driving job out there, let alone 50

It took Gottlieb Daimler’s engine over 75 years to replace the horse drawn carriage:

  • 1876 when he invented the four stroke engine
  • The last horse drawn taxi carriages were withdrawn from the streets of London in 1947

But there is a technology now in wide use which I think will send manufacturing industry jobs into a tail spin, and as a result the duration of such jobs very quickly downwards. It was also adversely affect a number of other industries, and hence their employability.

As children, we all got entertained by magicians. One of the tricks that they use is placing an old doctors bag on top of table, and pulling things which are quite obviously bigger than the bag from them: floor standing standard lamps being the most obvious. At the end of the trick, as a child, you are left wondering “how did he do that?” Of course as an adult, you recognise the part of the supporting cloth covered table in the trick, and the magic is gone.

Now, go back to thinking about that old doctors bag as an adult, and think what you might want to be able to pull from it were it reality? Your restrictions? It can only be made of one material, with a melting point below 750deg centigrade (sorry, no gold metal bars; gold melts at 1064degC) and has a maximum size of 22 x 22 x 30 inches. Got you thinking? Bet you don’t think its reality, do you?

In the mid-180s, Dr. Carl Deckard at the University of Texas at Austin invented Selective Laser Sintering. You can think of this as 3D printing, using a laser. Simply, you have a bucket of material heated up just below its melting point, and another empty bucket. A roller transfers a thin layer of material from the full bucket to the empty bucket, and then a laser melts a selected part of the material, creating a layer of the object you want to make. Each layer is about 50microns thick, and takes 5seconds to create. So 20 layers = 1mm, taking 1min 20 seconds. A centimetre takes 10 mins, the full 750mm depth of the bucket about an hour and a half. So, within the given restrictions, anything you want in 100 minutes or less.

Now think about the jobs affect. If you can draw it, it can be made:

  • Who needs prototyping services or small engineering companies?
  • Who needs manufacturing technicians? There is growth in drawing, CAD expertise and maintenance, but everything else becomes superflous at worst, or lower volume at best
  • Who needs dental technicians? If your dentist can scan your mouth, then your replacement tooth is readily available at one appointment
  • Who needs couriers? Break something, the customer service team send you the CAD drawing and a set of repair instructions by eMail. You then make the part, and fit it yourself or call a technician
  • What parts delay? Everything is always in stock, with a maximum time delay of 100mins

The more I think about Selective Laser Sintering, the more I think: what manufacturing jobs? If it fits into that magic doctors bag, then it can be made in less than 100 minutes.

Yes, the economics only work for short-run requirements, so the multiples will still work. But for how long?

The downside? Heating stuff up makes it dull, and its only presently in one colour. Plus the current commercial machines cost over £100,000, more likely around £250,000. Yet Samsung intend to launch a home based version in 2013 for around £1,000, capable of producing objects up to 6 x 6 x 12 inches, only out of powered Nylon.

Market testing is key to employability. I was talking to a painter and decorator recently, who knew six months ago that he couldn’t get a job, so decided to retrain. Great I thought, something outside the building and construction industry, which is – thanks to the non-lending banks – presently a dead sector. No, he took a plastering course, paid for by Jobs Centre+!!! He’s now wondering why he’s still unemployed. In Brazil 20 years ago, I watched a similarly titled person place a garden watering spinner in a room, exit the room, and attach the hose to high pressure paint dispenser. Two minutes later, he walked back it, and started cleaning the windows: it was cheaper to paint the windows and then clean them, than cover them up! Apparently a similar technique is now being used in London by some Eastern Europeans.

But, even if you can find 50 jobs, you need to as part of Part1 of the five steps to employability think about the future technology. If you have CAD skills at preset, I can only see a growing market in manufacturing. If you don’t have computer programming or operating skills, and want to continue a career in manufacturing, then I think you could easily find yourself in a low paying about to be replaced job very soon. A simple view of the market would tell you that, and if you got some computer skills now then you could ride the better paid wave of new jobs coming down the track.

In summary,: For employability 50 jobs is the answer; but lookout for the Future Jobs Killer.

Good Luck!
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