How Low Skilled Workers Face an Uncertain Future and What They can do About it

How Workers Face an Uncertain Future and Why they are Voting for Autocrats

The steady loss of manufacturing jobs due to offshoring, outsourcing, and automation since the 1970s has created an army of out of work low skilled workers who are expressing their rage and disappointment as well as frustration against the system by voting for autocrats such as Trump and other right-wing populists as well as voting to leave the European Union as happened with the Brexit vote.

Indeed, the phenomenon of low skilled workers finding it difficult to make ends meet is not confined to the West alone and this is a worldwide trend.

In Asia and Africa, such out of work or discouraged from seeking work category of workers are fueling unrest and chaos which occasionally turns violent as they seek answers for their predicament.

With union membership falling and with no one to help them or look after their interests due to the decline of the labor unions, such workers have become the Precariat or the class of workers with precarious futures and no possibility of hope or light at the end of the tunnel.

Indeed, the fact that social unrest would become the norm rather than the exception without these workers being assured of a certain future has begun to sink into the elites who now fear that the rage and anger that such workers have can be directed at them.

This is especially the case in the West and China and India where the dominant elites have started to pay attention to the problems of such low skilled workers by floating proposals such as Universal Basic Income and Bringing Back the Jobs Home or Putting America First and Make America Great Again.

Thus, collectively we are at an inflection point where unless we take action together, the future would be very tough for such workers with implications extending to the entire societies and nations.

Even Higher Skilled Professionals are at Risk

It is also not the case that only low skilled workers face an uncertain future. Indeed, with automation and the rise of robots, even middle-skilled and high-skilled professionals find themselves staring at an uncertain future as can be seen from the protests by software professionals in India when they are being laid off and downsized to make way for higher skilled professionals.

Moreover, recent research suggests that even white collar jobs are at risk from automation which means that for Millennials who are graduating now, the future does seem uncertain and bleak without much hope.

Indeed, already Millennials in the United States and Europe carry humungous amounts of student debt in addition to being saddled with low incomes as well as stagnating wages.

Thus, the gloomy scenario facing both the young and the old at the moment calls for action by the relevant stakeholders including the politicians and policymakers as well as the business and corporate leaders and activists and the broader civil society groups.

The System Can Help Only Those Who Help Themselves

While it is indeed the case that the system as a whole must come to their aid and help these workers, it is also the fact that such workers must help themselves as well.

They can do so by focusing on the basics which are re-skilling themselves by acquiring newer and higher value adding skills in addition to investing in quality primary and secondary education.

Moreover, young Millennials would well do to enroll in those courses that have the maximum and highest employability in addition to not focusing too much on courses and degrees that are worthless in the job market.

In addition, young Millennials and older workers can also think about working in the so-called Gig Economy or the Freelance Economy where they can find part-time employment with firms such as Uber and Task Rabbit as well as by freelancing for corporates who these days are more interested in contractual and freelance positions rather than full-time jobs.

Indeed, given the state of play and the trends which indicate that the future of work would be mostly in the Gig Economy kind of arrangements, it makes sense for all those affected to be equipped and prepare themselves for part-time jobs. Above all, it makes sense to build up savings and invest in the right areas as well as spend only on those essentials which they cannot do without.

Thus, the writing on the wall is clear and it is that unless workers and Young Millennials take steps to help themselves, the system as a whole is not going to help them beyond a point.

Indeed, instead of turning their anger at liberal politicians and voting for populists, they would be well served if they channelize their energies and transform their rage into hard work and directed efforts at helping themselves which is the first step towards their emancipation.


Lastly, while the future is indeed uncertain for the older workers and the Younger Millennials, there are signs that automation might create more jobs than those that are lost and that manufacturing might see a revival.

The important point for all stakeholders is to ensure that they do not give in to the gloom and doom messages that we are being bombarded with from all directions and instead, stay positive and try to uplift them.

To conclude, by making the right moves, these classes of workers and professionals can turn the corner and make the system work for them.

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