Well thanks to Ozboy for this one…..
It comes from The Sydney Morning Herald and tells us the story of Matt Barrie an entrepreneur who has come up with a game changing idea that could potentially change the world and the job market forever. I recommend reading the full article as I can not do it justice myself.
However the basic idea is quite simple it’s a web site Freelancer.com that connects employers specifically small to medium sized business with talented Freelance individuals worldwide…..
“it is now architects, accountants, lawyers, web designers, analysts, geologists, engineers and computer programmers – the knowledge workers – whose jobs are at risk.”
Now on the surface this means little to many of us however it is earth shattering in it’s effect on the work of the middle classes in the Developed Western World. In brief it means that work that could once be thought of as safe from outsourcing to foreign competition is now subject to the same competition that low skilled manufacturing was or more recently back end office jobs such as computer operations, HR or accounts. This has yielded many short term benefits to share holders (longer term it’s going to hurt them but that’s a whole other issue). What Freelancer does for the first time allows Mom and Pop operations to seek the same cost cutting measures enjoyed by big business, your accountant charges $400 the guy in Mumbai charges $100 who would you choose if you got the same level of service in a timely manner.
That simplifies the situation but I think encapsulates it neatly. This means that for the for the first time millions of people smugly thinking their jobs were safe for life will no longer be safe even doctors, with modern teleconferencing being cheap these days if I have a sinus infection or flu why can’t I call my doctor in Mombasa and get a prescription and let us say he charges $20.
Well I can see some hurdles to this such as accreditation and licensing in various jurisdictions but these are no longer the obstacles they once were as tests are for licensing are online for a fee. I’m not so clear on Doctors but eventually even they will have to recognize each others credentials in an increasingly flat world.
Now I don’t begrudge Matt Barrie’s get up and go and seeing a gap in the market and exploiting it for his own financial benefit more power to his elbow. However I can already foresee problems with this firstly if this idea takes off and it will it will force the middle class to compete with cheap labour from abroad this will depress wages which will then stagnate or even fall. Knowledge will no longer be the guarantee to success it once was with less money being generated in the local economy the need for goods and services will contract from less skilled workers. You had a house cleaning service it’s gone, you had a man mow your yard gone, pool cleaner gone, fancy eat out restaurants mostly gone. The knock on effect will be horrible in the race to the bottom unless those service workers are willing to take a pay cut in order to survive.
In the meantime that work abroad means that your competition can now afford more than ever before and that will ultimately drive up commodity prices making your now tough life even worse, it will be the great unwinding of progress in the West back to mid 19th century levels.
Also governments will suffer as the tax base shrinks and all those nice to have benefits such national health care or unemployment and state pensions finally become unaffordable.
There is so much more that I can see that will happen if this takes off it’s the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Please tell me I’m wrong or what I’ve missed but people it’s a brave new world out there and we had better learn to adapt or we will perish, I won’t be a Luddite and recommend we smash this new “cotton loom” but I think we should just learn to live with it but like those early 19th century workers all I can see is doom and gloom ahead but maybe I’m missing the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully it’s not the 5:50 to Paddington.
Read Full Post »