Monday, 12 December 2005

Future of Jobs

I have been interested in the future of jobs for various reasons including a selfish one as I have a young daughter as well as a boarder interest of my passion in preparing our next generation. I have been worrying that developed countries cannot sustain the current level of living standards both because of the general trend of inverting the population primaid as well as hyper-competition from developing or underdeveloped countries where the labour cost is serveral order of magnitude lower.

While information can move around the world in time which, in most cases, will not influence our decision to choose one over the other, physical goods need time to move from one place to another. This creates a new opportunity, as noted by Professor Preiss for manufacturing within developed countries.

... even the garment industry, currently dominated by Chinese manufacturers, which make 70 per cent of the world's clothes, was starting to win back business by using new technology to offer customisation, albeit not at the very bottom of the market.
"The customer chooses the style, of skirt or blouse on a computer graphics system, then is measured accurately in a room with a three-dimensional camera. The personalised clothes are delivered a few days later."

I don't agree that this is viable in the long term if the delivery still takes days (by that long time, the garment would have been made in a developing country and shipped to the customer by air). But the Professor Preiss' idea still holds. When this garment is to be delivered in hours, then local manufacturing becomes essential.

The developed countries should be moving towards mass customisation instead of mass production.

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