Monday 20 January 2014

Looking for A Job?

At the end of the 1940's my father's uncle offered to fix me up with a job at the Municipal Tram Sheds.  He averred it was steady work for life and the chance even of a pension if I was good enough to work in the office, say dealing with the work sheets or repair listings.

My mother was reluctant, not because of ambition, but because she distrusted my attitude to powered vehicles.  Already there had been one or two problems.  In any case she believed, to the uncles disdain, that buses were the future.  When the council finished with trams not long later it gave her great satisfaction.

The companies my parents worked for are now long gone as are their products and services.  Indeed in that town a huge proportion of the then firms and jobs have gone, never to return.  I often wonder what happened to my old friends who worked in them.

For the uncle's generation, trams were the new high tech' gear with all the electrical and machinery and the rest.  He could not imagine that they would go so quickly and so extensively. His father had worked in the wonders of the new steam powered ships spending his life as an engineer in the boiler room.  His mother's father was a mariner in the late age of sail, blessed with new navigational equipment.

As it was so shall it be.  Naked Capitalism has a short piece on the future of jobs and trends.  It is chiefly concerned with the impact of new technology on a range of occupations with a special regard for robots etc.  This is linked to a much longer article on which the piece is based in the Economist this week discussing the rates of change in a discursive way.

In the decades since the 1940's the one certainty has been the degree to which Government's both fail to understand and fail to prepare for the radical changes likely to occur in the structure of both the economy and employment in general and within sectors.  That an existing work force will demand protection and subsidy is understandable. 

If it gets it then the government will be investing in the past to claim growth in the future.  Certainly, there will be growth in terms of the money go round.  But what will be more likely is a gradual and damaging attrition in the sectors that should be providing the jobs of the future.

More dangerous it that there can be serious malinvestment in that economic activities that have been large scale recently and in the immediate past become the templates for how the government spends for the future and supports such private action that is similar.

It you look at the situation in the European Uncommunity you see precisely this on a continental scale.


  1. "He could not imagine that they would go so quickly and so extensively."

    I sometimes wonder if cars could go the same way. Not so quickly perhaps.

  2. I'm working on a way to mention the European Uncommunity too.