Mankind has alway evolved through the millennia, taking advantage of what they have learned, working more efficiently and realizing that their environment is ever-changing. Stone Age to Iron, nomadic hunters-gathers to (in effect) farmers, the Division of Labor to the Industrial Revolution, and on today’s world of computers and new technology. Industry in America today has transformed from being labor-intensive to a service industry.
While Washington argues the pros and cons of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Labor looks back at the many jobs that were lost after NAFTA and CAFTA, two former trade agreements that resulted in the transfer of jobs to countries in South and Central America. At the same, we have to realize that much of our Industry today has also transferred from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and Southeast Regions within our own country. Business has always sought greater cost-efficiencies.
Gone are the days of the next generation joining the local mill or plant after high school, perhaps taking jobs similar to older family members, working for the same company. Nowadays, with the advent of robotics and technological advances, industrial production requires more advanced skills, mechanization and, of course, less manpower. And that is, of course, if the jobs haven’t moved elsewhere.
There are a number of new industries, and also considerable growth in existing ones, which should become the focus of the future. Just a few are: financial services; computer programming and design; systems analysis; artificial intelligence; health care and, yes, education. Someone has to challenge and teach the work force of the future–even beyond what is required today—and health care workers will be needed to take care of the growing elderly population who are living longer.
Sure, no country and no employee group wants to lose good-paying jobs; however, as the demand for many of those employees diminishes, the pay scales will decline anyway. For too long, industry has been complaining about what could or should have been; but frankly, employees must truly take responsibility for their own future. Think about it: how can anyone spend a lifetime expecting to do the same job as the robot that is next to them; but, it never gets sick or takes vacation, and it only needs an occasional can of oil or a tune-up from time to time?