The high and ever rising unemployment and underemployment levels for many is a constant reminder of the state within which we function and its still a long journey towards development that we all must endure.
Needless to mention, the unemployment and underemployment levels in Uganda is very high with so many youths looking to the streets in such of means or ways to survive and make a living. Indeed, many university graduates have failed to land themselves jobs due to a number of reasons and circumstances. Factors such as the lack of education of a certain level to the lack of job opportunities due to low investments in the business sector and in some cases trivial biases such as nepotism lead some people to face a life of hardships.
Also natural disasters such as heavy rains, mudslides, drought and famine tend to cripple human activity especially in the villages and in the process contribute to the high levels of illiteracy and unemployment. However, one contributor to the global labour crisis but one that is yet to be considered a real threat to economies is the influence of the digital medium.
Today, anything can be accomplished with just the touch of a button. Indeed, overtime technology has fast evolved and expanded and these days ‘time and space’ are not very thorny issues issue when it comes to getting things done; with so many international transactions made possible, allowing people to accomplish more than they could have previously imagined. All thanks to this modern age coupled with the new inventions it brings. For instance, due to its easy accessibility, the internet has enabled so many people in the world to develop at a fast pace. This not only introduces new inventions but also projects us into the future by opening new windows for many and providing more job opportunities in its progress. So why is the unemployment level in countries such as Uganda still so high?
The digital and tech world has grown so vast and wide; today millions of people around the world have easy access to many technological services like the internet and mobile money platforms among others. As time progresses better and more inventions are released to the public and with each idea comes a better and more sophisticated and advanced futuristic version of its predecessor. This advancement mainly ensures the efficiency with which the innovations ease the workload for many people. In effect, many individuals have become ‘co-dependent’ on these inventions. From online shopping and banking to even ordering a meal to your doorstep, the modern age has proven that the sky is barely the limit when it comes to what one can achieve using modern day technology.
However, despite the positive impact of technology outweighing the negatives, one must still interrogate the repercussions of being overly dependent on technology despite its efficiency and reliability. The most common vice often paired with technology is ‘incompetence’ especially amongst the youths of today. Technologies such as phones, computers as well as the digital platforms such as social media and videos have proven so addictive that many can’t do without them, something that has created an air of ‘passive redundancy’ in today’s society.
Today’s digital and technology advancement has improved greatly in that there is little that a computer cannot do, in fact computers have been programmed in such a way that they can now ‘possess a mind of their own’ and are considered far more competent than some if not most human beings. Originally, these developments were put in place to help humans carry about their daily businesses with ease however these innovations are quickly taking over, doing what any ordinary humans would do only better and faster and in turn relieving the producer of any need for human labour or input altogether.
“The era of internet and superb technological advancement which everyone embraces has enabled a number of efficiencies that lower expenditures for customers, but also reduce the need for labour. This means that some job opportunities that existed before are now closed up and only preserve of machines with one operator or two,” says Oscar Kimanuka, a communications specialist and lecturer in Kigali. With a guaranteed higher and faster production rate that comes with a cut expenditure budget, it becomes understandable when a number of multinational companies downsize and instead opt for the use of mechanical involvement in the production line of their goods and services thus putting many workers on the bench, giving rise to ‘technological unemployment’. Technological unemployment is the loss of jobs due to the introduction of labour saving machines and processes.
Millions are left unemployed annually due to the advancement of technology in the various sectors of the economy and the number only continues to grow as time goes by.
And Kimanuka strongly advocates for the training and implementation of ‘job creation’ instead of ‘job consumers’ in today’s society especially at tertiary level. When one is equipped with the capabilities to create jobs, one can not suffer at the hands of this modern age and its machines.
That noted, these developments leave one pondering about where the global economy is headed and whether in a few years, people will still be able to find work that hasn’t already been taken over by a new brand of futuristic specialized equipment.
“Driving [done] by people will look quaint; it will look like a horse and buggy,” explains Prof Moshe Vardi of Rice University. Prof Vardi notes this leaves millions of would be drivers jobless, only increasing on the unemployment dilemma.
Available information indicates the robot economy would cause a 75% unemployment rate leading to questions as to whether people are ready for a world where 50-70% of the population is unemployed.