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Evolve or die: More occupations are becoming extinct.

In Economy, history, Jobs, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on November 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

What would you do if, not just your particular job, but your entire occupation was no longer needed – ever again? There are on dozens of job categories that are either slowly becoming unnecessary or have already suffered the fate of mechanized extinction.

operatorsAlready gone are the ice and milk delivery man (they were just men back in the day), the telephone operator, record player repairman, elevator operators, professional typists, and a host of others. Those occupational positions feeling the Grim Reaper nipping at their heels may include the gas station attendant, the postal delivery worker, video store clerk, department store sales person, newspaper delivery workers (the paper boy), travel agents and the old-fashioned barber.

Oddly enough even newspaper columnists, like yours truly, are fading away. Modern publishers can use syndicated filler columns or hire “bloggers” who often possess little or no journalistic experience – and pay pennies for the material if anything. Most of my freelancing colleagues have adapted to commercial writing or do as I have, by taking on a wider variety of work to earn a living.

Printing press operator jobs, once abundant in the Dayton, Ohio region are now all but gone. The more publications move toward fully electronic versions, the fewer press jobs there will be and the skill will be in higher demand with those companies still rolling out ink and paper.

As time passes, some of these occupations will have to either evolve into other forms or go the way of the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. Librarians, for example, may have been headed towards obscurity but now manage a variety of media, both on the shelf and online. But others may not be able to adapt to serve alternative functions and will simply die out, like the salaeratus maker (that’s someone from the 1800s who made baking soda). See what you can learn from Deer In Headlines?

So what is to be learned from all of this professional progression? Clearly, more education is going to be necessary and the market will adapt to the need. New types of jobs will be created as others fade away.

But are there any jobs unlikely to be replaced by technological breakthrough? Oddly, anyone who is required to create, build and repair that technology has a goldmine ahead of them. Let’s face it, the nerds rule the world and they’re not going anywhere! There are whole television shows about them now.

Incidentally, it isn’t merely technology that causes occupational evolution, but the economy and changes across a business sector, particularly where several types of industries overlap. Consolidation of responsibilities combined with changes in technology can result in the need for more highly-trained workers, but requiring fewer to do the same jobs.

Doctors and nurses will probably always be required, even though patients will pay more to see them less. Hospitals are in a constant state of change as well. Budget cuts and lack of necessity have long-since done away with the helpful but redundant “orderly” position. Today, nursing and medical assistants have taken the place of orderlies, having more education and medical training that can serve a larger need than merely as a gurney driver.

On-air radio professionals, once called “disc jockeys,” have had to evolve as well. Digital media and station automation have made these jobs scarce, but those who are surviving are evolving through other types of media like Internet-based entertainment and even creating their own online listenership.

Whatever the job, workers should make an effort to stay ahead of the game through personal enrichment, continued education and, above all, keep an open mind. Those people who are very resistant, even defiant, toward technology will have a much harder time adapting.

The bottom line here is that occupational evolution is a necessity of any economy. As technology changes and America continues its slow but steady recovery from recession, more workers will be needed while some jobs disappear because they’re just obsolete. *

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. Learn more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com

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