The myth of technology as a destroyer of employement


Erroneously some people thing that technology destroys job positions and even oppose any plans by “evil” employers to implement new technological tools to “substitute employees by machines”. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Technology creates employment and democratizes the access to services wich before were unreachable for a large part of the population. ¿Do you remember the old print shops? Those that used litho sheets for printing. ¿How many of those remain in our days? Surely less than before. Printer shops that refused to modernize themselves have disappear and, therefore, they no longer generate jobs. But it would be a mistake to say that changing the technology used for printing was a severe blow for the working class and for society in general. The reality is that digital design and printing has generated more jobs than the ones available, years back, at the traditional print shops. ¿The reason? Technology, by lowering costs and facilitating communication, has attracted more clients. Services, such as a professional logo design or printing full color flyers, that were only affordable for companies with big budgets are now available to a greater number of companies and individuals. We can say the same about the substitution of typing writers by computers. I don´t know how many people worked manufacturing type writers but, surely, they were less than the ones that work today in the IT field. It is true that old jobs were substituted by higher skilled positions. But that is something that we should celebrate, because our target shouldn´t be underdevelopment. On the contrary, we need to invest on training and we have to trust in the ability of our workers to learn new things and to be more productive by having the correct tools. In Latin America it´s common that we complain about how First World countries see us as a mere source of cheap labor. What we don´t realize is that, when we refuse to invest in technology, we reinforce that dynamic because we are deciding that, to compete in the international market, our strong card will be the low salaries of our employees and not productivity.

Bringing technology to companies allows us to maintain and create jobs, by:
*Developing new skills in our workers that would be valuable for their curriculum. If we see job offerings we will notice that a lot of companies requiere previous experience in the use of some kind of technology. Unfortunately, many businessmen (specialy in the recycling industry) have a low concept of their own employees and they believe that they won´t be able to learn and adapt to new technologies.
*Increasing the productivity of workers and being able to give them feedback, which increases their self esteem and the value they place in their own job. For example, companies that refuse to adopt technology force their employees to make several manual entries which only makes their job slower and that won´t be able to be used to create reports on the
effectiveness of the different areas of the company. And even those companies that do have some kind of software, if they don´t have the more adecuate, can dedicate a big part of their worker´s time in regulatory tasks. For example, with most states requiring scrap yards to document all their purchases; the cashier can spend most of his day fulfilling those requirements o the company could invest in a software that facilates that task by being capable to scan and read from ID´s and by automatically taking pictures at the scale. This will not only result in a better customer service, it would also allow the cashier to take part in more productive tasks for the company.
*Increasing the margin profits of the company and reducing the opportunity of fraud through control mechanism included in several recycling softwares available. We can hardly create jobs if we don´t have the tools that allow us to be competitive in the international market and with inventory and payment control systems that prevent theft. A broker company can´t generate employement.

Technology shouldn´t be seen as an expense or as an enemy of employement. It should be seen as an investment that will allow us to maintain and create jobs. Specially, in the recycling industry, were companies compete at the international level; it would be a mistake to believe that we can survive focusing in the past and making decisions based on impulse and not in objective information that technology could make available to us. And those of us, who hope for a more prosperous Latin American, have to trust more in the ability of our workers to develop new skills supported by technology; instead of promoting rudimentary processes that are possible, not because of our wit, but because of low salaries which allows us to use labor in task with low productivity.

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