Time to leave?

How do you know?

clock 450

A recent series of events has started me thinking. On Friday, we had a meeting at work to talk about possibilities for promotion and tenure. On Saturday, I had a talk with my wife about it, and that evening, I received a very timely email.

The short version of the meeting is that I may be eligible for promotion and tenure in three years, at my employer’s convenience. This is kind of disappointing, as I was expecting that to be the case this year.

The conversation with my wife was even more unexpected, as she ended up saying ‘if they aren’t going to give you a proper job, maybe it’s time to look for one elsewhere, even if that means a move’.

The email is pretty self-explanatory.

The two combined really started me thinking. I’ve been pretty happy at work so far, and it’s been an interesting and satisfying six years (normally I get bored after three!). However, I don’t know if I am going to learn all that much going forward, particularly without being promoted. Three years of the same doesn’t seem that attractive…

I’ll have a chat with a sympathetic senior colleague next week and see what he says. Also, if you know of any interesting job opportunities from April 2016 please let me know about them 🙂

Japanese Students Studying Abroad

Here is an interesting article about Japanese students and the demand for study abroad programs (thanks Glenski).

study abroad

*image stolen from the MOFA website

This seems to be a perennial topic of discussion, and there is much hand-wringing about how few students actually plan to study overseas.

To me this seems quite simple: I believe students are on the whole rational actors. Facing them are a range of issues:

  • there are significant financial costs associated with studying overseas
  • there is limited support for students to study overseas from universities and schools (generally students have to take time off from their studies)
  • companies pay lip service to internationalization, but study abroad does not seem to help with job hunting and in fact hinders it greatly if students are away in their third and fourth years
  • students don’t have the necessary language skills to study abroad after going through the normal English educational system in Japan

If these factors were flipped, particularly the third one, I am sure we would see interest rise.

What do you think? Is the system at fault or are Japanese students really the passive, docile, unadventurous generation that some media tries to make them out to be?

TED Talk: What will future jobs look like?

Here’s an optimistic TED talk on yesterday’s topic (thanks Tom!).

A future with no jobs -the most important social issue of our times?

wasteland

I think the most important scientific issues of our times are climate change, energy sufficiency, and environmental pollution, but I believe that these will be solved by technology within my lifetime.

Recently, I have been reading a lot about a problem that will be caused by technological advances.

I read two books: Race Against the Machine ($3.99 on Kindle) and The Lights in the Tunnel ($3.95 on Kindle). They are both incredibly thought-provoking, and tell the same story: we are approaching a future without jobs.

Technological advances are resulting in more and more jobs being automated. Looking around me here in Japan I have seen petrol stations (self-service), restaurants (order from a touch panel) and supermarkets (self-checkout) directly replace workers with machines.

Amazon has replaced countless shops, and is in the process of automating their warehouses.

The latest thing in education is Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), allowing one teacher to deliver content to tens of thousands of students.

Foxconn, the company that assembles iPhones in China, is currently replacing it’s workers with robots.

Google’s driverless cars will eliminate taxi drivers, delivery drivers, and eventually driving schools, traffic police, and even street signs.

Increasingly sophisticated computer hardware and software will replace legal researchers, translators, middle managers, medical technicians, surgeons, and other knowledge workers.

So, as technology continues to improve at exponential rates, and human workers for jobs at both the blue- and white-collar levels continue to become surplus to requirements, what are people going to do? Are we going to have societies where 60%+ of the population are on welfare?

It’s terrifying.

I think I’m probably going to be okay, as I work in a public university in Japan (possibly one of the last sectors to face automation). Even so, I would be surprised if my job still existed in 15 years time.

One possible positive to come out of this is that Japan’s extreme demographics may turn out to be a blessing. When there is no need for a workforce, and unemployed people are a drag on society, a falling population could become an advantage.

Am I overreacting? This seems like the issue of our times, as it is going to result in huge changes to our social and economic systems, but it doesn’t seem to be part of public discourse.

I look forward to your comments 🙂

 

 
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