When it’s all said and done, the US auto industry will have reduced their employment ranks by about 80,000 people in 2006. Almost entirely, most of these jobs will not be replaced.
Although much is said about the impact of outsourcing, in raw numbers, fewer jobs have been lost to it in the US than from the downsizing of the American auto manufacturers. The real impact of outsourcing to countries offshore will not be felt for another 2 years or so. It begins, however, with 2007. Outsourcing is about to become important. It hasn’t really been very impactful so far, despite all that’s been written and all that we hear about it. Actually the layoffs of auto manufacturers have had a far greater impact so far. But this year it really starts to affect the average western world individual. Anyone who thinks they’re bulletproof is only fooling themself.
Software, automation, and education are the key 3 reasons are driving this, of course. And each of them will play a far bigger role in your life over time. I suggest that you start taking the appropriate action to ensure you come out a winner and not a statistic.
Professionals are impacted just as much are blue collar or office workers. Software like Turbo Tax has taken a significant bite out of the average local accountant’s earnings; after all why pay someone to do something you can do yourself? New websites such as CompleteCase.com are doing the same thing to the revenue streams of lawyers. Medical diagnoses are done overnight, for less money, by well education doctors in Mumbai for patients in London, Toronto, or Chicago – so the patient gets faster service for less money.
When working with clients in the IT or engineering segments, I am continually surprised by how little they are preparing for this upcoming tidal wave of change in their industries and careers. Although there are many well regarded books on the subject like those from Dan Pink or The World is Flat; it seems that many managers in these areas still feel that they will enjoy continued success without being impacted. Let me be clear on this – virtually everyone is a candidate for a layoff. It may impact these fields in surprising ways much sooner than many anticipate.
If you haven’t yet created a career oriented personal action plan; I suggest you get to it. And when you do, take the long-term perspective, not just one which looks at what you’d like to have, or be doing, in only 3 or 5 years. That’s a short term approach. Although it may help you get a quick raise or to buy the new Wii system, short term plans have proven to be useless for any serious career management and planning.
To be considered part of the middle class in India, one makes about $15,000/year. The country has about 1 billion people, and at the current level of economic growth, estimates call for about 15% of the country to be doing middle class jobs by the year 2010. That translates to about 150 million people – or roughly the entire US workforce. Most of the work that this new middle class Indian worker will be performing will come from North America, the UK and other western countries.
But I am not simply citing India as something for you to be watching for affects in your field. It is my opinion, based upon what I see and hear from those in the know that by the year 2012, most routine work of most businesses will be done by people living in Asia or South America. Those people will be equipped as well as those they are replacing in the western countries. Experience so far indicates that companies in those regions will push very hard to get more western-based companies to let them perform their tasks remotely. They’ll push hard because they are grateful to have the jobs. And more western companies will give them the jobs arguing they have ‘no choice’ if they wish to remain competitive.
So, my advice is that you consider how much of your job is done by using straight forward logic i.e.: “if this happens, then we’ll do this, which will result in X, and our earnings will be $Y. Decision tree logic type reasoning is what software and computers do best. Clearly it’s the kind of work that can be done by someone at a computer in any location. Think now how you can make yourself more valuable to your employer and by doing so make your employer more successful in the marketplace. If you and your employer provide services or products which are at the forefront, it’s going to ensure that you have a great career, making good money, and remain employed with a thriving organization. That’s how many world class organizations got where they did, and its how the best companies on earth remain in positions of dominance. Act accordingly and be a long term winner. But don’t sit back and hope that someone is going to stop the inevitable. Remember those folks at General Motors and Ford.
– No government is going to stop this sea change of doing business, so you may as well ride the crest earlier than later.
– If your company can benefit from moving more quickly to offshoring – expect them to do it. Start creating your own personal action plan. Make sure you aren’t putting your career, and your life, in the hands of others. Lifelong employment doesn’t exist. Be your own business plan.
– Computers may never figure out how to use intuition or creativity at all – let alone as well as humans. Plan for your career to be more conceptual and less logical in nature.