Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds I guess by this stage, you’re asking yourself a rather personal question. Is your job likely to be affected by telemigrants? Either in the sense that you’ll be competing with telemigrants or your job will be made easier by hiring telemigrants. The question then is, which jobs will be displaced by telemigrants? Here’s a picture of a whole bunch of service jobs. And what I want to do in this video is think through what sorts of jobs are most vulnerable to competition from telemigration on the one hand, or benefiting from exporting services through telemigration on the other hand. Now, this question has no precise answer.
Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds But we can think about how to think about this by looking at the sorts of jobs that might be replaced. But before we go to research or an analytic approach to this, I think there is one thing you should keep firmly in mind. And that is competition from telemigrants will not eliminate occupations. But it will reduce the number of people working in many occupations. Think about it the way tractors affected farming. Tractors did not eliminate the occupation of farming. But it did reduce the number of farmers we need to grow our food. And telemigrants will similarly be able to do some aspects of some occupations, but they won’t be able to completely replace most occupations.
Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds In many jobs, the telemigrants will be more like assistants that let each local person get more done. Now, this productivity boost means that we’ll need fewer local people to get the job done. Another key point is that telemigration works both ways. We could import it. And we can export it. Telemigration will create opportunities for a nations most competitive service workers and professionals. It will allow people who really are very capable to sell their services to the whole world instead of being stuck to selling it inside the city they live in. But for those people who are less competitive, telemigration will provide more competition. As always, globalisation means more opportunities and more competition.
Skip to 2 minutes and 29 seconds Now let’s get back to which jobs are likely to face that extra competition. The most practical way to think about the approach is to look at where it’s being done already. Can you telecommute to your job? Or do other people in your office or workplace telecommute in? If the answer is yes, then you probably have to worry about competition from telemigrants in the coming years. As machine translation gets good, hundreds of millions of foreigners will be able to speak good enough language. Many of them will be capable of providing those services in your offices. As the advanced communication technology gets better, it will seem more like they’re actually there. It will seem more lifelike.
Skip to 3 minutes and 16 seconds And these platforms for matchmaking get better and people get used to using them, the amount of matchmaking that goes on will increase. So those jobs where people already are telecommuting domestically are the ones that are probably likely to be affected the most. So that’s one way to think about it. Now, another way to think about it is to approach the jobs– to approach it from the opposite side. Think about the jobs that obviously cannot be done remotely. There are jobs where you have to be there is a key part of the job description. This applies to things like child care workers, farmers repair workers. They just absolutely have to be there in front of the thing they’re working with.
Skip to 4 minutes and 0 seconds These sorts of jobs cannot be done by workers abroad since the very nature of the job requires a physical presence. But which jobs are these? That can be– to take the other side– which jobs can be done by people far away? Now, thanks to some research by Princeton professor Alan Blinder, we can be more specific. What Blinder did was develop a ranking of how offshoreable jobs are of the roughly 800 occupations that the US list in its data, which are those are offshoreable. and by offshoreable, he means that the job could be done remotely and therefore subject to telemigration. Now, it was based mostly on two criteria.
Skip to 4 minutes and 44 seconds First of all, does the job have to be done in a specific location? In the case of, for example, repairing a power plant or a plumber, they actually have to be in a specific location. The other shield he talked about was jobs that include the need for real face to face interaction with customers or suppliers, physical delivery, cultural sensitivity, supervising people, training people, motivating workers. Now, those are the sort of things where being face to face really, really is important. So those characteristics of the jobs which require people to actually be in the room give you some idea of which jobs won’t be replaced. So let me take one extreme.
Skip to 5 minutes and 26 seconds Call centres are a classic example where the job really completely can be done remotely. And indeed, most of them have been offshored to India and other developing countries. What Blinder’s research did was show that many other jobs are also potentially offshoreable. He found, for example, that 60% of the jobs in professional, scientific, and technical sectors are open to international wage competition by telemigrants. Now, that doesn’t mean one actual job will be completely eliminated. What it means is 60% of the work could be done remotely. And he also found that almost half the jobs in finance, and insurance sectors, and media could similarly be done by telemigrants. Subsequent studies have tweaked Blinder’s numbers.
Skip to 6 minutes and 13 seconds But most of them remain in the range of something like one in three US jobs could be competed for directly by telemigrants. That’s a scary number. If even half that number of workers came into direct competition with foreigners in the next few years, there would be surely a mighty upheaval. Now, I don’t think this is a cause for panic. But I do think it’s cause for thinking ahead and preparing for very rapid arrival of this very new form of globalisation. Now, the last point I want to make about telemigration is that it’s likely to come in ways few expect. Until recently, the rise of globalisation in rich nations was often associated with a factory closure.
Skip to 6 minutes and 59 seconds In developing nations, it was associated with industrialization and creating new jobs in manufacturing or other good producing sectors like agricultural or mining. Because this has been going on for so long, I think most of us have started to associate the impact of globalisation with this kind of job creation or job destruction. Something that you can actually see and touch. That’s a discrete event that you can say, this happened because of globalisation. But this is not the way the new globalisation is going to come. I think telemigrations will affect the service sector in a very subtle way. There will be no mass layoffs, no shutting downs of offices.
Skip to 7 minutes and 42 seconds Globalisation of services is likely to come in a much more subtle way, which I like to call the iPhone infiltration. Now, let me explain by relating a story that might seem at first quite unconnected to Globalisation. Just five years ago, the iPhone, this thing here, was a fantastic music player embedded in a mediocre cell phone with a short battery life, a bad camera, and a web browser that wasn’t much good because wireless networks were slow and pretty hard to find. Yet one convenience at a time, one cost savings at a time, the smartphone infiltrated our lives and changed the way our communities work.
Skip to 8 minutes and 26 seconds iPhones are now our email and messaging centre, our newspaper, camera, video camera, photo album, dating service, agenda and calendar, travel agent, and much more. And it’s even a fairly decent phone, although it still has a short battery life. But the key point here is that few of us consciously decided to let this happen. It just happened. There was no plan. There was no thinking it through, no government policy. But step by step, it dramatically changed our lives. I’m quite sure that all of you, and your families, and your companies have had to invent new policies about these things to prevent them from disrupting communities.
Skip to 9 minutes and 8 seconds And now, just a few years after it was invented, we find our asking selves, how could we have got along without them? Now, I believe this is how telemigration will arrive. Telemigration will make and take professional white collar jobs in the same incremental, unreflected way that iPhones invaded our lives. Nobody will decide to invite future Globalisation into our offices. It’ll just happen. The transformation won’t be a single eruption or event. In fact, you probably won’t even be able to point your finger and say that that’s future Globalisation. We probably won’t even realise it has happened until it already has. We will welcome migrants into our communities and our offices one convenience at a time, one cost savings at a time.
Skip to 9 minutes and 56 seconds And after five to 10 years, we’ll realise that telemigrants have joined our workplaces and irrevocably changed them. We’ll be asking ourselves, how did we ever get along without them?
Skip to 10 minutes and 10 seconds So just to sum up, what I’d like to say is that we’ve said many times in this course, I’ve been talking about telemigration mostly as a threat. But telemigration is also an opportunity. And many of you who will be working from home, many of you take online courses, also do freelancing online. You’ll realise the ability to export your labour services over telecommunication services is creating opportunities. And I think, as I pointed out before, I hired one copy editor from the United States and one copy editor from Bangkok because they’re doing slightly different things. It’s not all low wage competition. It’s also more opportunities. So we shouldn’t just view telemigration as threat to jobs.
Skip to 10 minutes and 58 seconds It’s also an opportunity for people to export their skills to other nations.
Which jobs will be displaced by tele-migrants?
I guess by this stage you are asking yourself a very personal question: is your job likely to be replaced by a tele-migrant?
Let’s see some answers in this video.
© Images in this video are provided by Shutterstock
© The Graduate Institute, Geneva