Employment and Career Choice as Major Challenges of the Technogenic Epoch (Part I)
28.07.2016

Even for those who live in countries with strong economy and high living standards it is a problem today to find a job. Many able-bodied people, including young specialists with university diplomas, either stay out of the job market or have to do something that they do not enjoy and did not major in. Some time ago it could be explained by the fact that many companies wanted to move their production to those countries where labor is cheap. Today there are different reasons, such as robotic automation and computerization of production and services.  Robots replace people at assembly lines, workshops, engineering laboratories, and even operating rooms.

Роботы в операционных

New computer technologies not only reduce the number of vacant positions, but also influence the list of the “holy cow” professions. For example, record producing is slowly becoming a history in western countries. Why would anybody need a producer if musicians can promote themselves on the Internet and sell their tracks 1 dollar a piece? Journalists do not feel totally secure anymore eiher, as significant part of their job can be done by news aggregators.  Taxi drivers’ unions may spend on strikes as much time as they want but the international company Uber, which created a mobile application for using private drivers’ services, continues to conquer the market worldwide.

Uber

A new travel card for car sharing is cheaper than a subway ticket. Moreover, the surveys held by Berkley University showed that car sharing has a positive influence on traffic situation and environment. Even the position of a driver is not really appreciated today, though driveless cars seem to be a fantasy to many people yet. Many people but not the US politicians in California, Nevada, and Florida who in 2011 and 2012 endorsed a law on passenger transportation by driveless cars

People get removed from their working places in many areas . It is clear that government has to do something with this situation until it faces a social disaster.  Especially it concerns young people with university education who has ambitious goals and want to have jobs they really like.  Some western countries, such as Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, seriously consider such thing as basic income.

Референдум о базовом доходе

Basic income is a sum of money (from 550 to 2 250 Euros) regularly received by citizens  or residents of a country from a government in addition to any income received from elsewhere.

It was assumed that basic income could solve the problems of poverty and technological unemployment and reduce social inequality. It would allow people to do what they like, not what the market demands. On the other hand, other risks may occur. For example, such programme could be too expansive,  lead to additional migration flows, and encourage parasitic attitude. However, in June 2016 Switzerland held a referendum on basic income. Even though this idea seems to be very attractive, only 18% of population supported it. But the experiment has not ended yet. In January 2016 the Netherlands began to pay 900 Euros monthly as a basic income. 10,000 employable Finns will be receiving 550 Euros for two years starting in 2017. It is clear that only very rich countries   can afford such social measures.   

Is Russia going to face the challenges of technological unemployment? It surly is. For example, Herman Gref, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of the largest Russian bank Sberbank, said a year ago that soon Sberbank would turn into a financial IT-company like Amazon or Google. As the result it would make more profit and reduce its expenses. However, in the beginning of 2016 he had to admit that despite the bank was developing very quickly it could not keep up with its competitors. By competitors he did not mean some other Russian banks but large IT-companies. 

Герман Греф

“We are very proud to have such achievements we have obtained over the last few years. We have made great investments. It was a major project. But as soon as we finished our data-center we realized that we could not compete on a large scale. Last year we updated our software 40, 000 times. If we compare that to the other banks it might seem that we are fine. But if we look at Amazon and Google we will see that we are way behind. Amazon makes 10,000 upgrades a day. Our key goal this year is to speed up. We are way behind right now.” Gref claims that developing and implementing a new software should take hours, not months.

But the faster new technologies appear, the faster they replace people. Today more and more clients use Sberbank online services, therefore they do not go and use help from the employees.

Мобильные приложения

It leads to cutting the number of clerks. Software successfully replaces accountants, whose number in Sberbank has been reduced from 33,000 to 1600. Very soon there will be only 600 of them. On the other hand, the bank needs more risk managers and some other specialists we did not know even existed some time ago. Other spheres of economy experience the same changes. For example, new computerized complexes for transportation and warehousing are being implemented in Russia. They are more efficient and to do not require salary. 

When we were discussing the issues of employment with Yuri Olenin, President of the fuel company  TVEL, I was amazed with the digits he mentioned. Several years ago TVEL, company that deals with the nuclear production, was a working place for 75,000 people.

ТВЭЛ

Today only 25,000 employees work there. Meanwhile the company makes more profit and really need only 3,000 people. And Russian universities continue to prepare specialists for the nuclear industry, making no changes in their education programmes whatsoever! Talking straightly, this is the biggest problem our universities have. They do not make changes in their curriculums in accordance with transformations certain sectors of economy go through.