Manufacturing is big news at the moment, not least because Donald Fart keeps promising to bring back the good old days to the US of A. But whatever protectionism he adopts won’t change the fact that, compared to 40 years ago, most manufacturing jobs have been mechanised and they aren’t ever coming back.
Next up for mechanisation are the 'knowledge workers' (and car/van/lorry/bus/train/plane drivers). And they seem to be starting with the trainers. There we were, once upon a time, with our flip-charts and overhead projectors (remember them) and PowerPoint slides and interactive whiteboards, but what we really had was knowledge about stuff – and the ‘softer’, and seemingly more elusive, that knowledge the more we had leverage. The more we were worth.
Now it’s all available online, or will be soon. I’ve been signing up to agencies and stuff, and am struck by the fact that at least half of the training jobs are for digital content designers. A job that didn’t properly exist the last time I looked, a few years ago. The trainer will be pretty much obsolete before I hit sixty. There will be the occasional celebrity hot-shot strutting their stuff on Teds talks and similar, there will still be immersive, accelerated learning experiences at the top end (climbing Everest as a team-building exercise maybe), but a fat man and his flip-chart is an endangered species, no question.
And most of these new jobs appear to be transitional, the next big training thing that everyone has to have. Once the existing knowledge has been downloaded, on-boarded, captured, you only need a digital librarian to keep stuff updated. We are being literally downloaded.
Coaching? I’m not sure. Facilitation? Maybe. Agent provocateur? Yes – that has legs. But, trainer? Nope, dead as a dodo.
Teachers? Doctors? Lawyers? Journalists? Consultants? Accountants? Fund Managers? Experts? Professionals are going to see their knowledge-edge taken away from them. If they are to survive in anything like the numbers that exist today, they’re going to have to adapt and quickly. The hollowing out of the professional classes is coming and quicker than they can possibly imagine.
That’s my guess, from a fortnight spent looking for jobs online as an analogue trainer.