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Our Opinion: Occupational hazards during times of great change

News Tribune editorial

The changing face of labor is evident whenever you pay at the pump, scan merchandise at the self-checkout or get cash from an ATM.

Technology is replacing employees.

Although digital devices are expensive and require upkeep, they alleviate paying salaries and providing benefits, including sick leave and paid vacations.

The trend is expected to continue with the creation of smaller, faster, more reliable technology.

These advances create growing pains as we adapt to new job descriptions and job training.

We are living in a time of great change — not unlike the advent of shipping during the Age of Discovery or mechanization during the Industrial Revolution.

Times of great change are characterized by both remarkable advances and significant problems.

The Age of Discovery spurred trade, but also piracy. The Industrial Revolution produced unprecedented growth, but also despicable child labor practices.

Similarly, today’s technology has created conveniences, but also challenges.

As mentioned at the beginning, some traditional jobs have been rendered obsolete.

On the flip side, the acceleration of information creates new occupations in storing, processing, managing and utilizing data and know-how.

Developments in the local education and business communities are encouraging. Among them:

• Educators are exploring and committing to the academy concept, designed to channel students to learning paths that reflect their aptitudes and passions.

• The Jefferson City Information Technology Coalition hosts a computer camp for high school seniors designed to enhance their capabilities and introduce them to potential employers.

• The Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce has joined with area schools and businesses in an on-the-job training partnership called Central Missouri Innovation Campus.

The rapid pace of change is not likely to slow in the near future. Our challenge is to keep pace by remaining nimble and willing to adapt.

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