New technologies and methodologies are constantly being introduced as it allows work to be done more efficiently and expand the economy, hence no industry remains stagnant. One of the key drivers of economic growth is new technologies, which allow industries to produce more using fewer resources. Crucially, such technologies are in the hands of companies who use labour in conjunction with them to produce a product or service. As a result, when labourers and other employees can’t be re-skilled to use technology, they become useless and may be replaced.
Trends across 3 Major Industries
One of the most valuable products created by a modern economy is waste. Globally waste management is a $300 Bn dollar industry because so much waste, approximately 62 million tonnes in India alone, is produced every year. A global consumption driven economy relies on the discarding of old goods and the production of new ones to expand. Every Indian household produces garbage daily and the country as a whole produces 100,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. In decades past most garbage produced was simply buried in landfills. This was a suitable way to dispose of garbage. Since attention was brought to the damage being done to the environment by the rampant production and disposal of goods, the opinion that resources must be used in a better manner has become widespread. This is why new technologies that allow waste to be recycled are central to waste management today.
The agricultural sector is the largest sector in India and employs millions, of whom over 9 million are farmers. Immediately after independence, it was the largest sector in India, yet the percentage of the total workforce employed in agriculture today is lower than the percentage employed immediately after independence. Because of the introduction of new machinery, fewer hands are required to farm than in the past. Indian farmers have adopted new technologies such as combines because of which fewer workers are required to work the land. Additionally, small farmers are using wind and solar power for irrigation further reducing the need for labour.
India’s IT sector is among the most sophisticated globally. Employees in the IT sector command salaries several folds that of workers in other sectors. The IT sector is driven by technology and is more open to disruption than any other sector. Because technology evolves so rapidly, workers in the IT sector need to be re-skilled more often than workers in other industries. New technologies like AI and big data are driving the growth of the technology sector and relatively young workers who mastered older technologies must re-skill and learn them to remain employable in the IT sector.
Re-Skilling Helps Workers to Adapt
Today a considerable amount of the waste produced is recycled. Lakhs of Indians, in the organized and unorganized sector, who worked in waste management when garbage was mostly buried in landfills or even incinerated, today collect garbage for recycling? The waste management industry has undergone significant changes not just because more garbage is produced today than was earlier, but also because a new type of waste, unlike that produced in large quantities earlier is produced today. Such waste, called e-waste, is being produced in increasing quantities. E-waste comprises of computer parts, electronic parts, motherboards, LED screens, and much more. E-waste contains harmful materials like lead, cadmium, chromium, and polychlorinated biphenyls necessitating that those who handle it be adequately protected. E-waste also contains gold and copper which workers in the waste management industry often extract from e-waste parts. The nature of e-waste is such that it can be refurbished and used to create new electronic products.
To workers in the waste management industry, e-waste presents a tremendous opportunity. While in the past workers may simply have collected vast quantities of garbage, today dismantling and refurbishing e-waste allows them to provide a superior service than they did before. Workers who dismantle e-waste have learned additional skills that allow them to dispose off e-waste. Similarly, workers who recycle waste have also learned additional skills that make them more employable.
IT workers between the ages of 35 and 45 who haven’t learned additional IT skills after completing their education have a skill set that is nearly obsolete. While the Indian IT sector remains robust, most middle-aged IT professionals must re-skill if they expect to have a future in this industry. Programming languages like Basic and FORTRAN, widely taught in the early part of this century are of little use today. To succeed IT professionals will not only have to master a new language like Python, JAVA, or PHP, but must have expertise in cutting edge technologies like AI, machine learning, and big data.
Jobs are an engine of economic growth. People who are employed, purchase goods and services; such economic activity is responsible for economic expansion. As new technologies are introduced, workers whose jobs are likely to be impacted by them must re-skill to use such technologies. The waste management, agricultural, and IT industries have been impacted by the introduction of new technologies. Of the three, the severest disruption has happened in the IT sector, followed by the waste management and agriculture sectors. Workers who’ve learned new skills have found greater success as software engineers, waste management professionals, and farmers while those who haven’t, are paying or will pay a penalty.