As new professions emerge in the new environment, we become aware of their impact in due course. There are opportunities in the information technology (IT) sector; in the information technology enabled services (ITES) sector; in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector; in the financial sector; in infrastructure; in biotechnology; in solar energy; and before COVID-19 hit the world so hard in 2020 – also in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
The last two have had a sorry time in 2020 and it may take a couple of years for them to recover. A pity—because both were in the growth stage of the industry and were a long way from maturity, thus opening up a lot of prospects over the next decade or even more.
However, we also need to sit back and think about the many careers that have disappeared in the new economy. New technology and the pressure of new ways of doing things have made many professions of the olden days redundant. Dreaming about a job on a cruise ship, or a job as a pilot on an airline, or many others—will just not do. Times have changed—and many of us need to fall in line.
Young people today must be constantly aware of what professions will disappear—and what are the new areas, or existing, but growth areas.
There was a time when my cousin earned a lot of money as a navigator for an international airline for close to 15 years. And then the airlines designed planes, which could do without a navigator—and this job ceased to exist. He had to go away, and take up farming in Nashik. Fortunately, he had a positive attitude. He did not sit at home and mope, cursing his bad luck.
And there was John (mentioned in another article of mine) in California, who was an airline pilot in US with United. In the 2008 depression, when the airline industry was doing badly, he lost his job, could not find any other because the industry was sinking and he moved on to be a mason or brick layer. He did what he enjoyed doing, got a certification and enjoyed his work, though it did not pay him as much as he would have got as a pilot!
We always used travel agents, to book our airline tickets and do our hotel bookings. No longer. Now we go on the internet, and log on to Makemytrip.com or cleartrip.com or the airline itself and book our tickets – at the best price available from among competitive airlines.
It is the same with hotels. One can specify the area in the city where your hotel should be; know the prices of competitive hotels; see the photographs of the hotel, the room, and the dining area (short of seeing the photo of the receptionist on duty when you arrive) and you have all the information. And you book on the internet, using your credit card.
Obviously, the travel agent cannot give you all this information—which you can get yourself—and for yourself, tailored. So goodbye—travel agent!
We also need a stockbroker to buy and sell stocks at regular intervals. We need not do this any more. Many banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank offer facilities for stock trading on the internet. You can buy and sell whenever you like- in the comfort of your home or office—which means, goodbye to stockbrokers!
Bank clerks was a well sought-after occupation. The jobs were well paid and offered lifetime employment, security guaranteed by trade unions and promotions at regular intervals in public sector banks. The introduction of computers has changed all this. That is why the bank workers’ union had resisted computerisation for a long time. One computer can do the work of many, perhaps, 10 clerks. No longer will there be crowds waiting for selection interview at banks for this, once valued assignment.
The road sweepers job with the BrihanMumbai Municipal corporation (BMC) was a valued job—because of free quarters provided; security in service; and preference to children of municipal workers for any suitable job in the corporation. When I see the new road sweeping machines operating in some areas of the city, I know that times are a-changing.
Stenographers from typing schools from Burnleys and Davers in Mumbai? A qualification, which guaranteed a job 30 years ago. Many were recruited from these institutions as soon as they had finished their programme. There are no stenos any more. They have metamorphosed into personal assistants, who use computers. And the boss handles much of the correspondence on his own laptop anyway!
In my younger days, there were eight laundries in my neighbourhood. Today, there are two! People use ‘wash and dry fabrics’ and ‘wrinkle free fabric.’ They have washing machines at home, and they only have to get their silk fabrics and woollen suits dry-cleaned some of the time. The laundry business has contracted, though perhaps, it will never really shut down completely.
Young people must see the signs of the times and the beacons of the future. Those who do, will succeed. Those who don’t, will be left on the banks of a fast-flowing river!
(Walter Vieira is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India (FIMC). He was a corporate executive for 14 years and pioneered marketing consulting in India in 1975. As a consultant, he has worked across the globe in four continents. He was the first Asian elected Chairman of ICMCI, the world apex body of 45 countries. He is the author of 16 books; a business columnist; visiting professor on marketing in the US, Europe and Asia. His latest books are "5 Gs of family Business" with Dr Mita Dixit and "Marketing in a Digital/ Data World" with Brian Almeida. He now spends most of the time in NGO work.)