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May 23, 2013
The Crystal Ball: What You Need To Know About the Future of Jobs
 
Some people affected by the Great Recession will likely be retired in a few years. 
 
But for the rest of us, we’ll need to slog on for 20–30–40 more years until we (hopefully) reach that nirvana called retirement.
 
It seems logical that we can continue at least in the same career vein until that blessed day when we can tell the boss to take the job and shove it.
 
Or maybe not.
 
A recent article caught my eye, and what it discussed about the future of jobs actually made my hair stand on end.
 
With the increasing evolution and sophistication of computers, many jobs that went away during the downturn aren’t coming back. If there is a functional need in the workplace, employers are turning to computers, who don’t need sick time or vacation pay.
 
Here's the catch. The Associated Press reports that overall, technology is eliminating far more jobs than it is creating.
 
This should be the first cue that we should all be getting concerned.
 
By having technology be programmed with algorithms and predictive behavior, jobs that once required humans are now automated. And this isn’t just about having a mindless automaton doing repetitive factory work.
 
Think about it.
 
Google has created a car that drives itself, and as the cost continues to plummet for this technology, automation can reduce the need for drivers, eliminate fatigue or driver error, and keep trucks on the road continuously. It may seem fanciful, but look deeper, and some of the big technological evolutionary signs are already there.
 
Similarly, sustainability efforts have rendered some companies completely obsolete. 
 
And that item you just ordered online? You’ve just bypassed going into a store and working with a sales person.
 
The cumulative impact is that the traditional blue-collar jobs aren’t the only ones at risk. White collar, specifically middle-class jobs, are going to start to feel the pinch of job loss from positions that are simply going the way of the dinosaur.
 
Fortunately, for the creative field, design is still a uniquely human element that robots have not (yet) been able to deliver on. But look at how technology has shaped fields like the publishing industry — eliminating entire publishing houses by offering services produced at the click of a button and the selection of certain requirements.
 
The key is to pay attention.
 
Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and don’t be afraid. The more you can understand and embrace technology before you get left behind, the better chance you’ll have of staying ahead of the game and finding a way to benefit from it. Instead of being run over by it.

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Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.
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