Friday, October 27, 2017
By Danny Tyree
Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a single day. Teach a man to fish and eventually someone will invent a fishing robot and put your student’s butt on the unemployment line.
That thought occurred to me when I encountered dueling career-related news items: “8 jobs that won’t exist in 2030” from USA Today (via its “content partner” The Job Network) and “10 Top High-Paying Jobs in 2030” by financial-services company The Motley Fool.
The former article raises the specter of a Brave New World in which drones, self-driving vehicles, cloud storage, teleconferencing, wearable tech and other innovations are making many traditionally safe careers risky. Even “the oldest profession” faces competition from newfangled robotic sex partners. (“My wife doesn’t understand me, but your algorithm understands me. And I noticed it understands the pork belly futures market, too. You two-timer!”)
Of course, the upheaval is all in the name of Progress. As in progressing from “Irish need not apply” to “Homo sapiens need not apply.”
Among the occupations The Job Network thinks will be dead or dying in a mere 13 years are librarian, newspaper delivery boy, cashier, receptionist, telemarketer, and the Travelocity-battered travel agent.
The cashier part hits me particularly hard. I have warm memories of kindly grocery store clerks I knew as a child. I worked a convenience market cash register myself during high school. I go out of my way to avoid the ubiquitous “self-checkout” lanes in stores. I would love to find a cost-cutting retail executive trapped in quicksand and toss him both ends of a rope. (“Want a fast in and out? Glad to oblige. Just help yourself.”)
The Motley Fool story acknowledges technological/cultural changes but is not quite so much “doom and gloom.” It actually predicts a surge in employment opportunities in accounting, software development and the healthcare field. Yes, parents will be able to reassure themselves about their slacker offspring by rationalizing, “Well, he can always get a job cleaning the toilet for the physical therapist who treats the homeless guy who used to flip burgers.”
According to Motley, in 2030 the high-paying job with the most openings will be “registered nurse.” Nurses will still need to remember not to be cocky and demand too much. If they overreach, their soothing voices will be replaced with a metallic “Hello, my name is Rosie. As soon as I get through vacuuming up Astro’s hair, I will lance that festering boil for you.”
Care to make any predictions about what completely new jobs will rise to prominence in this century’s Roaring 20s?
Perhaps “Disintegrator of Offensive Statues”?(“That sculpture outside the U.S. MINT reminds me of mint juleps, which remind me of plantation owners. Oooo, I would almost zap it for free.”)
Maybe “Really Flipping Houses”? (“I used a 3-D printer to manufacture a lever big enough to move a duplex. Try beating that, Archimedes!”)
Or “Programmer of Virtual Furniture That You Can Shake Spare Bitcoin Out of When Your Marijuana Brain Implant Gives You the Munchies”?
I know: “Lab-Grown-Meat Rights Activist.”(“That poor slab of faux pork never got to have brains or heart or courage. Give it some ruby slippers or we’re shutting this abomination down.”)
Danny Tyree’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.