Workplace Change, Re-skilling and Re-education: Why We Chase the Carrot in Technology

Why is it that with so much wealth being generated, so much technological advances that people must work harder for less result in their economic and social lives? The promise of technology was/is to reduce the burden in our own lives and free us from the constraints of time and space. Good and plentiful food, a great and free education, optimal health and lots of time with family, friends and exploring our passions and developing our talents. Where once these were actual goals, now this seems like a utopian dream. Yet here we are, concerned about energy needs, crumbling infrastructure, social unrest and economic inequality.

Change is the only constant. To proceed successfully will require education and organization.

A number of changes in technology and rapid and pervasive adoption have forced us to re-skill in order to keep up.

Offshoring

Many of the jobs of coding, programming or addressing server security and hardware issues are leaving for ‘offshore’ services. Cloud computing has made business independent from having to host their own hardware solutions allowing them to lease space on some server lost in space. Most popular pieces of software from Adobe to Microsoft are now available as a web-based service, able to develop documents without having to license a copy on the local hard drive.

The workplace is constantly rearranging processes and workflows to accommodate the change in relationships, materials, devices and accessibility.  The unpredictability and remote working environments that come as a result require increasingly coordinated and mediated change management.

Big Data

Skills that were once needed to organize, sort and save data into tables and spreadsheets have become redundant with data warehouses and real-time collection. Open data policies mean that the skills that we once used to organize the data are now needing to know how to interpret the data. In one way, technical skills are being made to administer big data platforms and business, institutions and organizations now need to know how to access, present and make decisions on the information.

Artificial Intelligence, speech recognition and complex modeling introduce a predictive capacity from buying behavior to risks like accidents and criminal activity. This also introduces questions of privacy and surveillance in the workplace.

Voice over IP

Hard switches and telecom systems are losing out to Internet Protocol (IP) voice exchange. Jobs once held in the telephone companies to manage stations and terminals are no longer needed as computer servers can handle the data. Applications like WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype and others have taken the face-to-face communications realm to the next level. Anyone can develop an app that provides a telecom service over the internet.

Moving On

Although technology has become so pervasive, people have not adopted every technology that was thrown their way. Google Glass was to make the internet and intelligence gathering available to everyone who was wearing them.  But it had a creepy surveillance state quality to them and people do not want to be constantly watched – people modify their behaviour and become self-conscious. In this case it makes us less productive and more insular. Other sources highlight awkward marketing and hoopla over nothing as faults in its demise.

Education is now aligning the coming IT skills shortage to meet the needs of industry by offering co-operative programs and vocational programs with improved recognition of credentials. However, recent graduates in information technology do not always find their profession and end up in tertiary or other industries. In Australia, over %70 of IT grads find work but work in jobs where their qualifications are not relevant. Employers always demand people with experience in ICT so there begins a vicious circle.

We enjoy our technology. We can connect almost instantly to loved ones around the globe. Share thoughts, images and sound. We are entertained but weary of the next Apple iSomething. There must be a balance between our lives and the chasing of the golden carrot, between health and work, between the environment and the economy. Surely with all this technology and all our brain power we can make this happen.

Resources:

Holtgrewe, Ursula. “New New Technologies: The Future and the Present of Work in Information and Communication technology1.” New Technology, Work and Employment 29.1 (2014): 9-24. Web. 15 Feb. 2017

By | 2017-04-04T20:18:38+00:00 February 15th, 2017|Blog, Organizational Development, Technology @ Work|0 Comments

About the Author:

Christopher Caldwell is an author and educator in organizational sustainability, leadership and change.