Manual Hands-On Labor is More Important Than Ever!
The industrial revolution started when businesses began using energy that wasn’t generated by people or animals. Although, historically, mankind has long used wind power (think windmills in Holland) as well as waterpower (the gristmill) for millennium, he mainly relied on human sweat to get things done.
With the advent of the steam engine, and soon after the discovery of electricity and its wide-spread use, the industrial revolution really took off. Automation was the catalyst. Electronics were the next major shift, followed swiftly by computing, robotics, and now, artificial intelligence (AI).
If you do a Google search for job loss due to robotics, automation, AI, etc., you won’t be able to sift through the thousands of articles that are listed. Workers all over the world have, at one time or another, gone out on strike or found even more violent ways to protest real or perceived job loss due to the changes overtaking their industries.
With this as a starting point, where do we go from here? Is there any future for manual, hands-on work?
A recent article by Timothy B. Lee, published in Vox, makes the case that, in fact, this type of labor will be increasing in value significantly. As he writes “…our collective obsession with job-stealing robots can cause us to overestimate the impact of automation — and obscure an important point about the economy. In many service industries, human labor is a mark of luxury.
So, at the same time robots destroy manufacturing jobs, the demand for labor-intensive services is soaring.”
Even when increased automation is available, some companies are not willing to implement it – in fact, they are touting their lack of automation as a selling point. They know that their customers are seeking a more personal connection to the goods and services they are buying.
Labor-intensive services are the future of the US economy
For example, between 2014 and 2024, according to the US Labor Department's projections, service-oriented jobs which require hands-on labor are the fastest growing occupations.