The advent of the Information Age has led to remarkable advances in almost all aspects of modern life. Finance, education, business and even recreation opportunities have become more efficient and accessible to a greater number of people across the world, and technological advances have led to groundbreaking discoveries in science and information technology. The widespread use of computers and the internet has also opened up new employment opportunities for scores of people, and entire industries, such as the BPO industry, have risen out of the need to meet the demands of the market.
However, despite all of the positive effects of new technology, modernization remains as a double-edged sword that also has devastating effects on certain industries and careers rendered obsolete by technology. In 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics identified several careers that are gradually dying out, including the following:
Postal service personnel: The widespread use of the internet has had a destructive effect on the postal service. Because more and more people are relying on the internet and on smartphones to send and receive messages quickly and efficiently, the US BLS predicts a sharp decline of almost 30% on the postal service workforce in a span of ten years.
Professional word processors and typists: Due to the rise of people with access to personal computers and other devices that contain word processing programs, the demand for professional typists and word processors has decreased. Students and professionals, who comprise majority of the industry’s clients, are now trained to become proficient typists in their own right. Approximately 13,000 people currently engaged in this profession are predicted to lose their jobs by 2020.
Stage performers, including dancers, theater artists and other related occupations: A study done by jobs researcher Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D revealed that the rising preference for easily downloadable movies, music, video games and other forms of virtual entertainment has made stage performances unpopular—especially among the younger generation—thereby eliminating the demand for professional stage performers. The BLS records a staggering 61% decline in this industry.
Watch and camera repairmen—Also known as horologists, people who make a living repairing and building watches are expected to decrease by approximately 14% by 2018, further debilitating an industry that has been precarious ever since the entry of multifunctional phones and gadgets equipped with clocks and timers. The rising cost of having watches serviced, coupled with the steadily decreasing purchasing power of the population, compels many to buy cheap, easily replaceable watches instead. In the same vein, people who repair cameras are also expected to decrease by as much as 15% by 2018, due to the high cost of having cameras fixed, added to the influx of affordable digital models, that discourage people from availing of such services.
Fast food cooks—Despite the rising popularity of fast food chains and outlets, the US BLS predicts approximately 19,000 fast food cooks to be unemployed by 2020. Although surprising, this trend may be partially due to the proliferation of new cooking technologies and equipment that require little or no human supervision. The entry of easy-to-use cooking implements are also pusing many households to cook their own food instead.