Friday, January 27, 2017

The Job (in)Security Syndrome

When I was a kid, the idea of job is to have a constant source of income. Everyone I knew who went for a job, stayed in the same profession. Or in similar professions, including the daily wage groups : painters, plumbers, farmers. Teachers did teaching at school and even at home. Bus drivers went for driving other things. Almost every job I saw, people did not change with time. Or that is what I thought. Everyone felt secured to do same thing daily and generate income.

After studies, changed profession from teaching to software industry, switching companies; I never felt "same job" everyday made any sense. Looking back, I observed something I did not in my childhood. There were insecurities in late 80s, 90s and 00s. In my childhood, there were people who used to make beedi, handicrafts from coconut shell etc. None of them did those job in 90s. 90s I saw people doing screen printing and type writing. In 2000+ time, all digital. By 2010, the typing job literally transformed as "DTP". They did very similar things like old typists, but the tool changed. Instead of painters who painted Super Stars for commercial Ads, Flex Boards came.

The phenomena of job security and future was always there as a "fear factor". When Industrial Revolution came, the manual jobs were reduced. Did it affect people? Yes. Millions. Did it eradicate human manual work force? No. Industry needed people who can use them, people who can repair them or even scrap them. In 80s and 90s, it was computer and digital revolution. It made its impact to kill a lot of transform a lot of jobs. Those who saw the change, adapted; survived.

Explaining saturation in an industry could be very tricky.   To begin with, let us take civil engineers who build our homes, there are plenty of routine jobs. Then there are engineers who design shopping malls. A lot of inputs like ergonomics, human psychology, location analysis are done to design and build such things. Did civil and structural engineering stop there? No. As an example, the low cost homes with GYPSOM was a radical change in the way people build homes. When "smart homes" started coming, the civil engineers learned to build them. In another 10 years, we all would be using some form of "smart home" concepts. This becomes part of civil engineering  and nobody in 2030s would think that it was never there.

I explained Civil to make it analogical to what is happening in other industries, including software. You as a layman might have come across "Advancement in robotics, neural networks, deep learning etc". This could "replace" software jobs and the market comes down could be a perception. To best of my knowledge, this is not true. The "boom" of software as a new industry would not be there. At the same time, all these topics of robotics, or neural networks are spin offs of software with flavors of some other industry. In fact, software by itself does not have a meaning, unless it is tied to an industry like "home automation" or "medical imaging".  To those who has the notion that "software" is not for mass, I would say "may not be true". There will be more "different" jobs like "repairing smart home" or  "creating new arm for robot" as transformations. For masses, those who understand such new opportunities still wins. For those who want to take it further, there will be always something new in software

Why I love programming, software and this industry is merely because of the way it could change our lives just by making an imagination happen with just a computer, courses from online pages and patience to learn. This industry will grow with such wild dreamers to make our lives better.