Jeremy Rifkin's "The End of Work"

Topics: Unemployment, Industrial Revolution, Underemployment Pages: 7 (2361 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Jeremy Rifkin's "The End of Work"

Assignment #2
Sugumar Sivagnanam 233722 Sec. C
Dominic Lozada 228223 Sec. B
Mike McDonald Sec. C

Presented for
M.N. Kiggundu

Business 42.210

Individuals tend to develop a false sense of security concerning the certainty of their jobs. After working for an organization for fifteen or more years, it is difficult for them to understand that their employers may no longer need their service. Jeremy Rifkin wrote The End of Work in order to warn people about what he foresees may be happening to the global labour force because of a rapid increase in the use of automation in the workplace. He identifies what he believes are causes of the problems which we are currently facing within the organizational structure along with some potential solutions. Rifkin's ideas may be relevant to most peoples lives including ours. The reactions of six currently employed persons to Rifkin's message will be included in this text. These professionals include a technical manager, a convenience store owner, a cashier for Marriot food services, a Residence-Life Staff Coordinator, a Part- Time Credit Card Service Assistant and an Assembler for an Electrical Switch- Gear Manufacturing Company.

Rifkin observes that the main problem of mass global employment in both the private and public sectors is caused by the continuing advances in technology and it's impacts on organizations, it's structure and design and it's direct effect on the global labour force. In particular, organizations are using the concept of re-engineering and replacing human labour with labour saving technologies. Rifkin gives us a better understanding of the development of the cause of this problem by examining the three industrial revolutions. In the first industrial revolution, Rifkin identifies steam power as the major tool used by industrial and manufacturing sectors. In the second industrial revolutions the electrical innovation effected the manufacturing, agricultural and transport industries by further reducing the global labour force.

Unlike the past, two industrial revolutions where industrial technologies replace the physical power of human labour, the third revolution (The Information Age), at present, is contributing new computer based technology which are involving into thinking machines. These thinking machines will evolve to the extent that eventual the human mind will be replaced in all economic activities. In particular, advancements in computer technology including parallel processing and artificial intelligence (robots) are going to cause a large number of white collar workers to be redundant in the near future. Furthermore as a result of advancement in the information and telecommunications technologies, organizations are using the concept of re-engineering to restructure their organizations to make them more computer friendly. As a direct result of this, training employees in multi-level skills, shortening and simplifying production and distribution processes and streamlining administration. One example of this is the global auto industry which is reengineering it's operation and investing in new labour displacing information technology, related industries are doing the same, eliminating more and more jobs in the process.

It is Rifkin's belief that it is technology that is taking jobs away from people. He includes many statistics concerning job loss, unemployment and how much organizations are benefitting from all this, he states that "more than 75 percent of the labour force in most industrial nations engage in work that is little more than simple repetitive tasks. Automated machinery, robots and increasingly sophisticated computers can perform many if not most of these jobs... in the years ahead more than 90 million jobs in a labour force of 124 million are potentially vulnerable to replacement by machines." (Rifkin p.5)....

Bibliography: Rifkin J. The End of Work, (New York, G.P. Putnam 's Son 's, 1996).
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