WAIHIGA: Will technology take your job away?

Having lived, studied and worked in Kenya all my life, my time in London so far has been nothing short of eye opening.

The capital city of England is a complex place described by some as the financial capital of the world, which has managed to preserve its rich history and culture.

One thing however that has stood out for me is the realisation that technology beyond its power to make life easier can also take away much-needed jobs from any society.

I only wonder whether the Kenyan education system is preparing students for a world where the jobs they know now will no longer exist.

Walk into a TV studio at any of the major networks in London and you will be surprised to find just the news anchor and possibly a standby cameraman.

Studio cameramen are no longer needed because the cameras are automated and controlled in the gallery.

Media houses will be disrupted by technology as various functions including graphics; autocues etc. are taken over by programs and software’s.

Will we ever see a robotic news anchor one day presenting the news?

Sound far-fetched but self-drive vehicles and flying cars are just around the corner.

Make your way into any supermarket or store in London and you will find it quite hard to get any ‘human’ assistance.

Even very large stores have minimal staff on hand to assist with inquiries.

One is expected to know what they want or at least try to figure it out for yourself.

When it is time to pay you can either queue to be served by the one or two available cashiers or use the automated tills, which allow you to checkout your goods and pay for them with cash, credit card or other payment means.

Security is another industry that has been hard hit by technology.

Most apartment blocks have some form of security system that allows genuine tenants or approved visitor’s access, eliminating the need for security guards.

Security cameras, sensors, a highly responsive police force amongst other factors means the human element is no longer necessary.

In 2015 the Economist reported that Nairobi, “is said to have 100,000 guards, making security its biggest employer,”

What will happen to all those jobs when the technology revolution hits that sector?

We already saw the impact of taxi-hailing apps on the taxi industry and more disruption is on its way.

Brick and mortar stores are also feeling the brunt of online shopping.

In 2016 Pew research revealed that 8 out of 10 Americans are now shopping online.

Those numbers should have changed two years later.

I ask myself whether the basic functions of accounting, law, architecture etc. can be taken over by technology.

Now don’t get me wrong the automation of jobs does have its advantages, like increased productivity.

So if you are wondering how to advise your son or daughter when it comes to making career choices then the Independent and the Guardian have some suggestions.

They suggest that careers that require genuine creativity such as cooking or marketing, people skills such as being a nurse or human resource and finally jobs that are highly unpredictable are the safest.

Find out what other commentators think below: –

(1) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/future-proof-careers-what-jobs-survive-future-robots-a8179746.html

(2) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/26/jobs-future-automation-robots-skills-creative-health

What’s your view on this? Write to me on waihigamwaura@gmail.com or @waihigamwaura

Waihiga Mwaura is the 2018 BBC Komla Dumor Award Winner and a news-anchor working for Citizen TV in Nairobi, Kenya.

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