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FRANKENSTEIN HAS ARRIVED, COMPLETE WITH SCREWS IN HIS HEAD

Folks, I have to say I’m troubled.  I’m troubled for the future of the job market in the USA—a topic that few if any discuss.  I’m especially troubled for our young people—who are in grade school today and those between the ages of 18 and 30.  Most studies I read estimate that by the time 2030 rolls around, 45 to 50% of today’s jobs will have disappeared.  In light of the facts that while many accept this as an eventuality, few communities are preparing for it.

I’m not a fast food aficionado.  I’ve probably eaten maybe five McDonald’s hamburgers in my entire long life.  However, I do from time to time purchase a lottery ticket (not a recommended investment strategy but good entertainment) at a gas station that shares space with a McDonald’s at the corner of 78 and Naaman School Road.

A few months ago I noticed they had installed Point of Sale Kiosks—somewhat creepy as the two poles supporting each one of them remind me of human legs—albeit Olive Oil legs, but legs nonetheless. 

McDonald’s is the 23rd-largest private employer in the United States (235,000 employees) with 68 million customers a day in their 37,000 restaurants around the world.

By the end of 2019 they will have these kiosk Point of Sale Systems that were developed by Torex, a Japanese corporation, installed at all U.S. McDonald’s locations.  We only have four months left in this year.

The POS system hooks up to printers and screens in the kitchen, creating a smooth ordering process with minimal room for error.

Other chains, including fast-casual brands like Panera and casual-dining brands like Chili’s have already embraced this trend. Some restaurants have even automated the food-preparation process.  Earlier this year I read about such innovations as robot hamburger flippers. Other upcoming concepts include virtual restaurants that eliminate the need for full-service restaurants (and staff) by only offering home delivery.  

A 2017 study by economists David Neumark and Grace Lordan found an increase in unemployment among employees who previously held jobs susceptible to automation. Younger workers were some of the hardest hit by this outcome, which shouldn’t be surprising.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of minimum wage workers are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Although the company is not elaborating on the number of positions it plans to eliminate, they do admit they are planning to lay off workers as it slims down its corporate structure in an effort to reduce expenses by $500 million by the end of 2019. According to my research, the average annual salary for a McDonald’s employee is $15,492.  Thus in order to achieve their $500 million “savings” by the end or 2019, this means they will need to lay off approximately 35,000 employees.

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 SO WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?  CONTINUE TO TWIDDLE OUR THUMBS?  I HOPE NOT.

We begin with the facts that we know:

1.  Many of the jobs today (up to 50% of them) will no longer exist by 2030.

2.  Most of these jobs will be process-type jobs than can easily be automated.  This includes many of the jobs currently being done by fast food workers as well as those on manufacturing lines.

3. Most of these jobs are minimum wage jobs.

4. Many of these jobs are held by people ages 16 to 30.
What can we do to offset this huge glut of our already raggedy job market?

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We can start paying attention to all workers, but especially our young people between the ages of 18 to 30.  They are the promise for the future.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES WILL HELP TEACH NEW SKILLS RELEVANT TO TODAY’S WORKPLACE.

First of all, our community colleges like Richland College, Garland Campus offer free career training that includes learning how to operate 21st century computer based technology to make things.  This training dovetails right into jobs at one of Garland’s 300 manufacturing companies.  Unlike the jobs at McDonald’s and other fast food places, most of these skilled labor-manufacturing jobs offer living wages.

AND THIS IS GREAT AND THIS IS TODAY.  BUT THERE IS TOMORROW TO PREPARE FOR AS WELL. Change is the only constant in this new age.  Many of today’s jobs, even those using our latest technology today will melt on the horizon of the future.  Today’s young workforce need to understand they will most likely not be able to learn one skill and then practice it their entire lifetime. Instead their entire work lives in order to be successful will have to be a process of continuous improvement.

MAKERSPACES CAN PROVIDE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO COLLABORATE, SHARE IDEAS AND CREATE NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES.

We must teach our young people to be critical thinkers who can innovate, create, and problem solve.  To some extent this happens naturally in the friendly, social collaborative atmosphere of a makerspace. Someone has a problem they want solved.  Perhaps they’ve tried various things to no avail.  They may talk with another maker who offers a suggestion from an entirely different point of view and it works. 

One of the things I hope to do in our Garland Makerspace when/if we have a space to call home is to offer a free class in TRIZ—a Russian problem solving methodology that I’ve been trained in.  It would be interesting to me to see how this might impact the creation of new products within the makerspace environment.

There is no learning environment like that of the makerspace—not community colleges, not the workplace, not universities and not libraries.  It is the most fertile ground possible for birthing new innovative products and services.

Yes, I’m a zealot when it comes to makerspaces.  The potential that a makerspace offers communities to lift up their local economy is amazing.  Please remember that both the Square and Fit Bit were created in makerspaces.  After less than five years each of these companies is valued at $2 billion.

PLEASE SUPPORT LOCAL MAKERSPACES IN YOUR COMMUNITY—The job you create may be your own!  Or that of your child!

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