The ATM Stole My Job
Some politicians today are blaming the ATM for stealing good jobs away from good people. How bad can an ATM get? Stealing jobs from hard working people who deserve them more than the machine deserves them. Or do the people deserve them more than the machine deserves them?
The machine is ready all day and night every day of the year, minimum downtime, lower overhead, less maintenance and very customer friendly. The machine does simple tasks that used to require a person, but now does not. The ATM can be positioned outside in the elements and even off the premises of the bank.
The teller was stationary in the back and only worked an eight hour day with holidays and weekends off as well as sick days and it took several tellers to cover the shift of one ATM.
Many tellers have been replaced by ATMs. That was an excellent business decision by banks throughout the world. There was more than just the theft of jobs by the ATMs; the ATMs also brought opportunities along with it.
Someone has to maintain the ATM, technicians have to work on them and keep them running properly. The ATM is a computer and a machine there are more IT issues that have to be dealt with, therefore more IT jobs, plus more work for armed security delivering cash to the machines.
The individual behind the counter at the bank taking cash in and handing cash out lost a job. Individuals with more technical skills found more opportunity. Less skilled tasks went away and more skilled opportunities arrived. It may not be a one to one relationship. Perhaps for every ATM there were five cash handlers lost but only three more technical positions developed, but the improved technology brought the work force up not down.
Let’s talk about Tolls and Toll Collectors. In the Northeast we have EZPass, and there are other versions of electronic toll collection devices that have replaced toll Collectors all over the country. Where we used to have thousands of people sitting in booths collecting tolls and making change, we now have electronic devices doing it for us. Years ago collection baskets requiring exact change took some of the jobs away, now electronic devices are doing it. We lost minimally skilled jobs and replaced them with more skilled jobs. We get more IT positions, more accounting positions and technicians to maintain the readers and other equipment necessary to make the system work. Technology removes unskilled labor and replaces it with more skilled opportunities. We give up more unskilled positions than we pick up skilled positions but that’s what technology does for us, it makes us more efficient.
Now let’s talk about buggy whips. We have to talk about buggy whips, because it makes everything so much more understandable. When we used horses to get around, we needed buggy whips. Lots of people made buggy whips they were available everywhere and used everywhere.
When the automobile arrived and we used fewer horses no one bought buggy whips any more. Companies who made buggy whips went out of business or made other items to replace buggy whips.
Where did all the people who lost jobs from the buggy whip companies go? Some went to the automobile factories, and some went to other manufacturing companies, but none of them made buggy whips anymore.
What should happen to the tellers who lost jobs to the ATMs or the toll collectors who lost their jobs to electronic devices? Artificially prop up their unnecessary positions, or let them go and acquire more skills and fill one of the more advanced technical positions the new technology requires.
Things change, things move forward. Unskilled or minimally skilled positions will disappear. Each individual must look out for themselves and maintain a skill level that can keep up with technology.
Efficiency means we are losing unskilled jobs faster than the year before. Unskilled jobs are becoming harder and harder to find. Minimally skilled jobs are also disappearing. Parents have to recognize this and encourage and assist their children to prepare themselves for the future.
High School diplomas and a college degree are becoming the bare minimum requirements. Education and experience are the keys to technology. Each of us is responsible to maintain a skill level to avoid having an ATM steal our job. Artificially propping up meaningless jobs prevents a company from keeping up with technology and staying even or ahead of their competition.
We each have to make a contribution to our employer’s profits to keep the company stabile and profitable. Without profits there are no jobs. One day you may look around and notice that the job you’re doing can be replaced by a machine or a computer. That day will already be too late for you to find new and better skills. Start in elementary school and keep acquiring new skills and make yourself marketable. These are individual responsibilities, not your employer’s responsibility.
Your employer must let you go if you can’t contribute to the future. When you see that you aren’t contributing you must realize that you are expendable.
No one needs a buggy whip anymore, and the ATM counts faster than a teller, outside in the cold and the rain. Acquire and maintain as many skills as possible you’ll need them.