Robot automation will ‘take 800 million jobs by 2030’ – report

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By Gary Hadler

Robot automation will 'take 800 million jobs by 2030 - report

The article http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42170100 is a worrisome prediction for the workforce situation that people will face in the near future.  2030 is only 12 years away which means this is the ‘predicted’ situation that many of those starting schooling now will face when they enter the labour force.  Possibly even more worrying is that it suggests that many jobs people now have will be disappearing and thus people in those occupations will face structural unemployment.

The figure of 800 million workers globally losing their jobs is enough to send shivers down one’s spine.  This suggests that everyone will feel the impact of the changes in the labour market.  This will directly or indirectly affect all of us in some manner.  The prediction that 1 in 3 people in the developed world will see their current jobs disappear by this time is dramatic.  Even if this article is overstating the scope and/or speed of these changes it would suggest trying to ignore such a trend is both foolish and dangerous.

The article certainly implies that consideration should be given when planning one’s career or choosing which industry to work in thought should be given to the effects automation/robots will have on the long term prospects for those jobs.

It is not that surprising that this trend is speeding up given the very high wages that are now being required in the developed world.  The article points out it is the developed world which will suffer the brunt of the job losses.  Businesses will increasingly seek to replace expensive unit labour costs with automation.  As Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves then humans become less necessary in delivering a service.  This related article ( Intelligent Machines: The jobs robots will steal first   http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33327659 even suggests occupations such as doctors will see the demand fall as AI can do a better, quicker, cheaper job of identifying diseases and recommending medication than individual doctors do.  The machine will always have access to the latest data and the AI will improve with the learning that comes over time.

I know from a personal point of view as a business owner there is constant pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency.  This leads to automation and outsourcing where possible to lower labour cost markets.  A business has no choice as the need to stay competitive requires this.  This is then combined with improved service.  An example would be an automated taxi driver that never gets lost and can speak every language.  Or an automated diagnostic machine that then very cheaply diagnoses many common ailments and prescribes suitable medication.

We all have seen examples of this happening in our lifetimes.  The first big noticeable area in my lifetime was the ATM replacing the need for many bank tellers.  In Hong Kong the octopus system has meant ticket sellers at public transport locations are now very few where they used to be many.  Bar code scanners have sped up checkouts and there are now numerous locations where people can auto scan their own shopping without the need for checkout operators.  Smart finger print scanners or facial recognition software have been reducing the amount of immigration counters needed at airports.

It is true that these technologies do create new jobs but not in the volume that the old ones are to disappear.  This has far reaching consequences for all of us.  Young people should consider the effect of these technological changes when considering their education choices and career options.  Everyone needs to do what ever they can to make themselves less vulnerable to sudden job loss due to technology.

The future is possibly a scary place for many who may see this unemployment hit them at some time soon in their working lives.

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The End of Australia’s car-making industry

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The End of Australia’s car-making industry (1)

I just finished reading this article (The end of Australia’s car-making industry http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-41675196 ) and thought it was a very good time to comment on some of the reasons for this decline and the problems resulting for the Australian economy.  As an Australian I grew up in a world of fierce rivalry between those who supported “Holden” and those who were pro “Ford” in relation to their favorite cars.  Everyone of my class mates (or at least as far as I can remember) had an opinion on which was better.  Everyone wanted to get one of these cars as soon as they came of age.  At this time in my life it was unthinkable to believe that the car manufacturers in Australia would not survive.  There was a belief that Australian cars were the best in the world for Australia.  Australians were fiercely proud of the car manufacturing industry.  So what went wrong?

As discussed in the article the trade protectionism was, to a large extent what allowed these car manufactures to develop in Australia in the first place.  The high tariff barriers made these Australian made cars cheaper than those imported ones.  The movements towards free trade and the decrease in government protectionism resulted in imported cars being cheaper than the locally produced ones.  This however is but one of the reasons for the decline in Australian manufacturing and the Australian car industry.  The effect of the tariff may be illustrated.

graph1

 

As shown above the tariff raises the price of imported cars into Australia from  PWorld to price Ptarriff reducing car imports into Australia and generating tax revenue for the government.  It also results in a loss to society cause by the higher prices and the inefficiencies caused by the tax.

Added to the loss of tariff protection the Australian government also cut off subsidies to the car industry in Australia.  A quote from the Australian Prime mister illustrates this point Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull said a lack of government support was not to blame since the government had provided a total of 7 billion Australian dollars ($5.5 billion) in subsidies to the industry since 2001.” These subsides have been progressively cut to help try to balance increasing budget deficits and to comply with international trade agreements.

It is also a factor that Australian car production could not achieve the very large economies of scale that were needed to reduce the unit cost of cars.  These economies of scale mean that the very large car producers such as Toyota prefer to produce their cars in a few locations and export to the other markets.  Not have local factories in different countries produce cars for just that country.   It was not just the economies of scale in production that Australia could not achieve but also in Research and Development which meant Australian cars were just becoming rebadged cars that were developed in other locations.  The individually designed Australian specific car virtually disappeared.

The changes in the Australian population also meant that Australia has become an increasingly  country of migrants.  These more recent Australians did not grow up with the “tribal loyalty” to a car company.    This can be illustrated by the diagram below.  Back in 1970 the Australian population was around 12 million.  It is now around 24 million.  The growth for the most part has been from immigration.

graph2

 

 

https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/population

 

The other very significant fact that is often left out when discussing the decline in Australian industries such as car production is the extremely high minimum wage in Australia.  Take a look at this list from 2016 on minimum wages in a select group of counties.

Australia: $17.70 per hour

United Kingdom: $AU14.66 per hour

New Zealand: $AU14.22 per hour

France: $AU14.98 per hour

Germany: $AU13.17 per hour

Canada: $AU10.45 – 13.81 per hour

United States: $AU10.08 per hour

Japan: $AU10.01 per hour

Mexico: $AU5.50 per hour

Czech Republic: $AU3.37 per hour

China: $AU1.68 – 3.93 per hour

Brazil: $AU341.16 per month

India: $AU3.09 – 7.44 per day

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-31/minimum-wage-how-does-australia-compare/7461794

It is very clear that Australia is now one of the most expensive places in the world to employ labour.  Successive governments have increased minimum wages by allocating responsibility to an ‘independent’ tribunal that only is considering the quality of life of the people on the minimum wage.  No (or very little) account is taken of relative wage rates with other countries.  It is not that Australia is more expensive than India to employ labour, it is that Australia is more expensive than virtually everywhere.  This means that it is cheaper to make things almost anywhere in the world other than Australia.

The decline of the Australian car industry has seen considerable loss of jobs.  According to this recent publication from Swinburne University   In 2009-2010 there were approximately 73,772 full-time employees in the motor vehicle industry (which includes the production of other transport equipment as well as parts),

http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/10/collapse-of-australian-car-manufacturing-industry-.php

These job losses can be further expanded when considering the impact on employment in other sectors directly affected by the auto manufacturing industry as this diagram from the previous mentioned article from Swinburne shows

graph3

Source: Valadkhani and Smyth (2016, Table II, p.698-701).

 

Thus it was with sadness that I read the BBC article and decided to write this commentary about it.  I worry for my country of birth as I see the decline in manufacturing as a structural factor that will not be reversed.  Where are the jobs for future Australians going to be created?  The mining and agricultural industries are not generating growing employment numbers.  These industries are largely mature.  It is also the case that most of the jobs in these industries are in rural Australia,  not where most of the population chooses to live. Approximately 90% of Australians live in Urban areas   (https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/urban-population-percent-of-total-wb-data.html ). So it is with difficulty that I can see where the young will find their jobs.

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These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

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By: Gary Hadler, Director and Co-Founder ITS Education Asia

These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

I was just reading this article ( http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/28/health/sweden-gender-neutral-preschool/index.html ) and thought I would share it with those that follow our blog and add some comments on it.

To me the article seems to imply that Gender stereotyping and the associated teaching is what creates the differences between men and women.  Removing gender stereotyping in schools the result will be more well rounded adults.  Problems faced by both girls and boys are the result of the gender stereotyping that has been part of their upbringing.

Personally as an educator I find the premises of the Swedish experiment/model questionable.   Men and women grow up to be very different for the most part in every society in the world.  This has been true throughout history.  In my view, it is not the education model that results in the differences.

Back when I was younger my first extended experience living overseas was when I spent 3 years as a volunteer aid worker in Western Samoa.  One of the things that really struck me about the experience was that a) A lot of what I thought was human nature from my experience growing up in Australia I discovered was actually learnt behaviour for my culture and environment and b) Many things I thought were learnt behavior from my culture and environment were probably human nature.

I tend to think that in an effort to be more ‘politically correct’ educational theorists are getting carried away and are imposing their ‘strange’ views on generations of children to try to prove some pet theory.  The premise of these preschools is that trying to remove gender stereotyping from the education system at a young age will result in better adjusted people.  I personally would like to know what they are basing this assumption on.

It may be the case that the opposite is true.  It may be the case that children growing up in this model will simply be more confused about their identity and place within a general community.  The idea that not calling a young child boy or girl but ‘hen’ is gender neutral seems pretty silly to me.  After all hen is a female chicken.

There is also the reality that when outside the school environment these young children are going to be back in society where gender stereotyping is common.

To me the question education models need to be addressing is discrimination and equity not simply trying to promote their own views on how to resolve problems.  I would not support this model of confusing very young children about their gender.  Equality and openness about all issues is what I believe education models should be teaching.

I would welcome others’  thoughts and comments on this topic.

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When exam results go wrong…

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by Ruth Puentispena, Exams Officer, ITS Education Asia

 when-exam-results-go-wrong

Results are out and you did not do well. Maybe you had a bad exam day or week or session – in any case, you’ve missed your offers and have lost places at your first, second and third choices.

It is not the end of the world.

Just because you didn’t do well doesn’t mean you can’t go to university in the autumn. There are many different pathways to higher education and ITS can help you.

If you took UK A-levels, then the first consideration is re-taking some or all of your A-level units. ITS is the only Edexcel Exam Centre in Hong Kong offering re-sits in the October exam session. Apart from that, we also hold IAL exams every January and June. Preparing for these tests with us will also allow you to get all the help you need, along with premium guidance on university applications, including help in writing your personal statement and getting predicted grades for your next round in order to ramp up your chances of getting in to the programme of your choice.

Some of you may be considering taking a gap year. The important thing is to know how to spend your time wisely. Taking an internship or part-time work in a field you are interested in pursuing is a viable option; or you could take some sort of short course or foundational year. With our vocational and diploma courses in Fashion and Dress-making for example, you gain a range of skills and begin to experience more of a work-based rather than school-based environment. Remember that everything you do should help make your later university applications more competitive, while at the same time allow you to gain and hone the necessary skills you’ll need to succeed at university. Unfortunately, the days of simply going to travel for a year are over in terms of that being a good CV entry. If you have missed out on a place at a top university this will not cut it. For those whose aims are lower down the scale, travel is still a highly valuable option as long as you do learn from it.

For IB and DSE graduates, you can spruce up your qualifications with additional A-level results. ITS offers 12 month long A-level courses both in-house and online for anyone interested in adding to their results, as in the case of students who decide they want to do university courses but realize that requirements for admission aren’t met by their current grades. These are available both live and in video format. At the end of the course you will have the option of applying directly to UK based universities at the yearly Clearing Fair held in mid-August.

For those who do not want to wait around and need to get on a course immediately, ITS runs a BTEC HND in Business. This is equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor and articulates into a third year top up from a UK university either by going to the UK, taking a year with a transnational partner in your home country or online. This means you would end up with both a graduate diploma level in Business and a Bachelor such as a BBA.

There will always be a way to get to where you want to go. Let ITS be your guide in as you choose your Pathways To Learning. Call +852 2116 3916 or email to speak to a counsellor today.

 

 

 

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Strauss-Howe Generational Theory – is it the new crystal ball or pseudo-science?

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By Dr. Orville Leverne Clubb, Head ITS Education BTEC Centre

“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns.  If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself.  What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish. There is no free will. There are no variables.”

― Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor

strauss-howe-generational-theory-is-it-the-new-crystal-ball-or-pseudo-science

Today the word “millennials” is in common use.  I found that the word’s origin is from the “Strauss-Howe Generational Theory” by two pop historians, William Strauss and Neil Howe.  Strauss and Howe’s work is a theory of U.S. generational repetition. Their theory’s hypothesis states that US history moves in 80-year cycles.  Each generation moves through 20-year periods of influence in the cycle called turnings. There are four turnings in a cycle. Each cycle will have highs and lows. The fourth turning or last turning in a cycle is normally a major crisis in history like the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. Each of the four generations embody fundamental characteristics, and these characteristics repeat themselves throughout history.

The cycle begins with an optimistic period of hope for growth and prosperity called a “High”. This period is immediately after the end of the previous cycle. The prosperity and wealth of the High period “turns” (turning) into a time of social unrest and uncertainty as fundamental questions concerning morality and ethics begin to be asked, this period being known as an “Awakening”. As an Awakening rolls forward, society begins to withdraw inward from wider social issues and causes, focus on amassing individual and familial wealth, and becoming distrustful of once trusted institutions and symbols of authority. This period of social value decay is called by Strauss and Howe an “Unravelling”. After an Unravelling, an accelerated countdown to a period of “Crisis” begins, climaxed by a major civilizational level crisis such as war or deep political upheaval surrounded by a number of smaller seminal events featuring further breakdowns in the economic and social fabric. Using this theory, our current cycle calls for a major defining crisis.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist is greatly influenced by this theory and is looking for an apocalyptic “fourth turning”, such as WW III. This would allow the US to go through a cleansing and in a new “High” will return the US to former American values (make America Great again).

William Strauss passed in 2007. Neil Howe is still active and still trying to refine the theory.  In a resent web posting by Neil Howe “Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book”, Howe describes the fundamentals of the theory:  “We reject the deep premise of modern Western historians that social time is either linear (continuous progress or decline) or chaotic (too complex to reveal any direction). Instead we adopt the insight of nearly all traditional societies: that social time is a recurring cycle in which events become meaningful only to the extent that they are what philosopher Mircea Eliade calls “reenactments.” In cyclical space, once you strip away the extraneous accidents and technology, you are left with only a limited number of social moods, which tend to recur in a fixed order.

In an article by Tim Fernholz, Bannon was not dealt with in a very flattering manner.  “His views revolve around several key themes that can be explored at some length, but briefly summarized: American society is at a turning point in history and facing social collapse thanks to a decadent generation that has forgotten the values that made America great. Only by re-embracing white, Christian nationalism can the US regain its pioneering chutzpah. He even made a film on the topic, called Generation Zero”.

Generational theory is growing in popularity.  Dr. Graeme Codrington in an article “Detailed Introduction to Generational Theory in Asia” attempts to apply the theory to the countries of Asia, South East Asia and the Asia-Pacific regions. In his article Codrington points out theories of the cyclical nature of history is not new. He states: “Greek historian, Cicero; Greek writers, Heraclitus and Homer; Chinese philosopher, Lin Yü-t’ang, and the writers of the Old Testament (especially the book, Judges), show that this cyclical nature of history and generational development has not just been recently noticed.”

In computing we talk about “the software life cycle”, there is the “product life cycle” for manufacturing and even “Empire life cycles” theories. There is clearly merit in life cycle theory. It suits our view of our existence. But to what extent does that give it validity? Until next time….

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