Sunday, October 11, 2020

Electric vehicles will end another non-college job - the auto mechanic

 My Great-Aunt was born in the 19th century. She spent most of her life working in data processing. She, and thousands like her, did read, delete, update operations on paper cards that were passed between thousands of small rectangular desks in a large rectangular building in Montreal. None of her coworkers had a college degree -- I suspect many could not read very well. The work seems impossibly dull, but she enjoyed it and the pension it brought her.

I have one of those desks, I'm typing on it now. It fits nicely in a corner of my living room, and I'm slender enough to fit comfortably in it.

By the 1960s the first business computers wiped out her industry as definitively as the automobile eliminated millions of horses. There would never again be a large scale job that required no particular social, physical, or cognitive skills.

Since that time IT has generated vast numbers of knowledge worker jobs that pay relatively well while eliminating jobs that do not require cognitive skills.

Now electric vehicles are going to do the same thing. Compared to internal combustion engines they are much easier to maintain; their complexity is in batteries and software. Never-college auto mechanics are going to lose their jobs.

There's a lot we can do about this problem. It's not only the right thing to do, it's also essential to our survival. Even if Biden wins in 2020, if his administration doesn't act quickly there will be another Trump in 2024.

No comments: