Jobs lost and found

Dr. G Venkat Ram Reddy

July, 2020

The first law of thermodynamics, also known as the Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. However, modern economic systems and the 'Jobs'- the activities that make such systems possible are far from remote.

The pandemic has enlightened many of us this fact, which was more evident to only economists and economic historians until now. While the study of how economic systems evolve operates and change over time is complex, our understanding of the stuff that these systems are made of is more discernible.

Here are some such patterns:

Jobs, once created, can be destroyed.

Jobs become obsolete, but skills don't

New jobs do get created, but bring with them new skill requirements.

Changes to the nature of jobs are brought about by a host of factors related and unrelated to the jobs in question.

Technological change usually begins with incrementally improving the way we work to replacing us eventually.

Non-technological changes (like political uprisings, pandemics, etc.) usually do not impact the constitution of jobs until unless they are sudden and irreversible.

The most demanding jobs and the highest paid jobs have two things in common: often involve convincing other people, and the outcomes are erratic.

And such jobs are least likely to become obsolete with technological change.

Why are discerning such patterns important? The answer is evident from the fact that much of what humanity does growing up and old is to eke out a living. And jobs are our mainstay in this endeavor—knowing what happens to them over time and why will help us better direct our efforts in preparing for them and life.

About the Author

Dr. G Venkat Ram Reddy is a faculty in the area of Human Capital & Organisational Dynamics at School of Management and Entrepreneurship, IIT Jodhpur.