An esteemed Princeton economist has predicted that accountants, lawyers and other highly educated and highly paid workers in the developed world will be made obsolete in the near future by lower cost alternatives in the developing world.
From the best accountants and lawyers to the smartest derivatives traders to teachers and lecturers, many of today’s most prestigious jobs could, thanks to globalization and improved communications technology, just as easily be done more cheaply in places such as India and China.
I’m skeptical, and not just because I’m on his extinction list.
Some occupations are safe, of course. Investment bankers, who have to take out their clients and sweet-talk them are more likely to survive than derivatives traders, who could as easily be elsewhere. Clearly, for example, most of the health profession will still have to remain in situ.
There’s why. If you’re just sitting at a desk crunching numbers, you’re already replaceable. It’s the soft skills like being a good communicator that separates the accountants with job security from the ones who could be half way around the world. How is it that investment bankers are the only ones who are safe due to this reason? Why is the economist ignoring this aspect of professionals’ jobs? What about culture as well? Is being a good advisor really learnable?