Elena Marciano is Russian-Israeli an international trade specialist based in Barcelona; she is also developing within the ARI Institute (Israel) to promote understanding in within the globalised internationally interconnected world.
Here is a new article for ATW readers to consider; My thanks to Elena and Robin.
“At the start of the new millennium the renowned German sociologists Ulrich Beck wrote: “The work society is coming to an end as more and more people are ousted by smart technologies. To our counterparts at the end of the 21st century, today’s struggles over jobs will seem like a fight over deckchairs on the Titanic. The ‘job for life’ has disappeared … all paid work is subject to the threat of replacement.
Concerns regarding the displacement of labour by technology have existed since the industrial revolution, when the Luddites set about wrecking mechanical weaving looms. Thus far they have been mostly unfounded; but as the western world struggles to recover from the latest economic crisis, and technology gets increasingly smarter, new trends are emerging. It is a prediction that we ignore at our peril.
The closure many traditional manufacturing industries in the latter half of the twentieth century created pockets of intergenerational unemployment in working class communities and the rise of a new welfare dependent underclass. This phenomenon is now working its way up the chain to the more highly skilled and service sectors.
Young, educated, people feel that they spent their best years and their resources, or their parents’ resources, to become qualified for a world that no longer exists. Youth unemployment rates are rising at alarming rates throughout the industrialised world. We have discovered to our cost that we cannot keep absorbing the educated surplus by expanding the banking and government administration sectors.
In Spain and Greece over half of all under 25s are unable to find work, in Ireland it is over 30%, and across the EU average youth unemployment is over 22%. In the United Kingdom youth unemployment is 8.3%, though in Northern Ireland the rate is already nudging the EU average. In total 5.5 million young people in the EU are not able to get their lives started or contribute to the economy. Though kids in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands still have a choice of opportunities.
In America youth unemployment is 16.5% and rising, in Japan it is over 10% and over half of last year’s Japanese university graduates are still looking for their first job.
This is not just the result the movement of industry from west to east, but something that is synchronous across many countries, creating an explosive situation for any society, a constant cause of unrest, disorder, and crime. The Occupy movement, the Arab Spring and other protest movements are all symptoms.
Bad as the current numbers already are, a trend has recently been noticed by economists: youth unemployment continues to rise faster than would be expected if it were being caused by current economic factors alone.
Something else is happening and there is increasing recognition that a large chunk of world’s population is just not needed in the job market anymore. This will require a radical social response.
If we look at the educational system developed during the last 200 years, since the beginning of industrialisation, is clear that we have basically been bringing up workers to service and develop industry, agriculture, technology, commerce and bureaucracy. There has been little focus on developing human beings or of our social nature.
The impact of prioritising the economic role of human beings has been detrimental to society and personal lives.
Even in the good times people were “burning out” working 8 -12 hours a day in order to obtain a certain standard of living. So when the economy turns bad the personal impact can be devastating; when whole industries become redundant, with no immediate substitute, communities are destroyed.
But if we are not working now, and will not work in the future, what should we do? How will we live? And if we are provided for by the government or some other agency, won’t we fall prey to the evil of idleness and destroy ourselves mentally and emotionally?
The permanent educated but unemployed mass is not necessarily an entirely negative thing, it is also a potential opportunity to improve and shape society in the new world. It is essential we develop educational systems that enable people to adapt to the new era, of which we are all part, and be able to inform and facilitate changes that are unavoidable.
Call it “the third industrial revolution”, or “globalization”, or “post-Nationalist”, there is no doubt that the word is changing, as it always has, and we must prepare for the move towards increased mutual dependence, and shared responsibility.
We are all in the one boat, and the sooner we all realize what is actually happening in the world, a safer and smoother the transition will be, but our way of thinking and our values, are still locked in the old paradigm. The path to a viable solution for crises facing humanity today must start with educating ourselves with the new emerging conditions. “