Transport Industry jobs continue to evolve with technological change

I have just read an article written by Cathy Engelbert, the CEO of Deloitte, entitled “Driverless cars and trucks don’t mean mass unemployment – they mean new kinds of jobs”. 

Ms Engelbert says in the article “When the media cites professions that may decline because of automation, some of the most common are jobs involving the movement of people and goods—trucking, taxis, ride-sharing, and the like. It often makes for good headlines and everyone “gets it” quickly. But the outlook is ……. not necessarily as dire as portrayed”.

In fact, technological change is not new to the transport industry. At the beginning of the 20th Century the automobile (or horseless carriage as it was first called) disrupted the horse transport industry.

Back then every town had at least one stable that catered for horses and provided equine services including blacksmithing, horse grooming, food and accommodation. Most of those jobs and businesses are gone, now we have motels and hotels and lots of jobs catering for the motor transport industry.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Whilst there were jobs lost with the advent of the automobile, even more jobs were created with the introduction of cars and trucks. Concurrently, wages, living standards and life expectancy increased. People got new jobs and better pay, but they were not necessarily the same people whose jobs disappeared.

Nearly ten years ago the mining industry introduced driverless haul trucks. This disruptive technology, which is more efficient and safer than a machine with a driver has impacted the lives of operators and many of these jobs do not exist now.

For people who lose their jobs to technology, the answer to getting a new job is to learn new skills and apply their existing skills to a different job or cluster of jobs that require the same or similar skills.

A research Report from the Foundation for Young Australians shows that when a person trains or works in one job they acquire skills for 13 other jobs on average. The Report highlights the skills that employers are looking for and indicates what clusters of jobs will be in demand for our future workforce.

We are unable to accurately predict the new jobs that will arise from new technologies that are not yet available. What we do know is that the impact of automation and new technology on jobs of the future will see a reduction of routine, manual tasks and an increase in the time workers spend focussing on people, as well as problem solving and creative thinking. 

All industries will need to reassess their business models in response to disruptive technologies as existing businesses and their workers acquire new skills and adapt to meet automation and new technological demands.

As an example, blacksmiths who a century ago wrought metal and shoed horses, adapted to metal welding and the use of new metal alloys and became specialists in metal fabrication.  Now the introduction of 3-Dimensional printing in the fabrication industry facilitates the construction of metal, plastic, composite and other products which impacts not just the transport and automotive industries but more broadly across the whole economy.

For more information or to discuss the impact of automation and new technology please contact ISACNT or visit our website.