The realities of the human population have always been an inconvenience to those who design and run the economy and society. Poor people are inconvenient if we are to realistically brag about how well we are doing, so let’s set up a couple of shelters and soup kitchens, and pass some laws to get them out of sight. The disabled are certainly an eyesore, so we surely can’t allow them to sit with a begging bowl. Loitering teens seem a threat, so arrest them for no real reason. Perhaps solve the problem by shooting a few. Whatever the perceived problem, we do whatever we can to sweep it under the rug and ignore it.
When problems get big, they grow beyond our ability to ignore them without cost. During the past fifty years we have gone through the greatest technological change in human history. Is it surprising to notice that much of humanity has been left behind, not as users of this technology, but as participants in the “new” economy? Many people are at the more primitive end of the skills and abilities spectrum. Some can be trained to perform higher skill level jobs. Some cannot. To address that end of the spectrum in simplistic fashion, we now need less back hoe operators than we used to need ditch diggers. Back hoes are much more efficient. So even if some ditch diggers can become back hoe operators, what can the rest do now?
Most of the glowing predictions for the job market of the future mention those many new jobs to be created in and by technology. They call for more STEM (Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics) training. They totally ignore aptitude. Aptitude was the basis for my entry into the computer software field in 1962. Aptitude is important. It is tested upon entry to the armed forces. It may be tested in high school to recommend a career path. I repeat: it is important. In the coming economy and culture what is even more important is the lack of aptitude for technology-based jobs. Where will the safety net be for those with no applicable aptitude? No one is responsible for their own genetics. When will we attempt to build a society that conforms to our population’s abilities?