Professional Obsolescence: A societal hazard

We as end customers are increasingly pampered for choice. Product life cycles are getting shorter. The organizational life cycle is getting shorter too. The onslaught of technological change is incessant. Together these changes alter the nature of jobs in organizations. Repetitive task performing jobs get scrapped first.

Every organization has employees performing repetitive tasks everyday which don’t really help develop any new skills. Over a period of time these activities are performed like involuntary motor tasks whether by a manager, white collar or blue collar employee. Such tasks also don’t enhance the thinking capabilities of the individual. Although during this period the employee remuneration steadily increases. The employee is caught in the comfort zone trap.

Employees who are expensive to maintain and perform repetitive tasks are the easiest targets for the organization to reduce fixed costs. Most times such employees are complacent assuming their jobs would last a lifetime. With stronger unions and labour laws shifting employees to develop their skills and prevent obsolescence becomes impossible. Organizations who themselves succumb to the onslaught of change also don’t have the vision to use the employee’s thinking potential both for its benefit and also to prevent the employee lose the means of earning.

With roles abandoned or requiring skills which the current workforce doesn’t possess, the organization has no choice but to retrench. The organization survives after golden handshakes with retrenched employees. Many employees become professionally obsolete.

We will have to do something to help today’s repetitive task workforce overcome possible professional obsolescence. In case we can help them develop capability to contribute effectively to profitability and growth using their long experience within the organization, they may simply not be allowed to go away!

In our opinion this is a social cause, prevalent in every country. It can be overcome only through collective societal efforts.

What do you think? Can’t we contribute to this cause of reducing professional obsolescence?