Telephones, Divides & A Brighter Future
Less than 150 years ago, Alexander Graham Bell unveiled his patented telephone to the world. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, telephones could be found in affluent homes across North America. Like any new technology, having a telephone at home was a luxury only afforded by the wealthy. Yet, within decades, millions of people had telephones in their homes and today it seems unfathomable not to have a telephone, whether it is plugged into the wall or tucked in a back pocket.
The telephone bridged the divide between the rich and the poor in a variety of ways; it was a tool just as much for the literate as the illiterate. It blew up social spheres that kept the classes separated. It made communication over long distances take seconds and minutes instead of weeks if not months.
But as the telephone grew in popularity and the technology improved, it eliminated a number of vocations like messengers, telegraphers and eventually, switchboard operators. These were good, solid jobs for life that vanished in a matter of years.
If this sounds eerily similar to what is taking place in today’s world with the advent of the computer and internet-enabled technologies, that’s because it is.
Research undertaken by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University indicates that within the next two decades, 42 percent of Canadian jobs are at risk of being impacted by automation. At the same time, technology is becoming pervasive, creating new opportunities and changing the nature of work across industries.
So how can we make sure our workforce—particularly our young people—takes full advantage of the opportunities available to them?
Canadian youth must have access to an “updated” education and training to join a rapidly changing labour market. For most, that means being digitally literate. For some, that means possessing the ability to read and write in coding languages, or effectively use digital devices. For all, it means having the skills to think critically and solve problems creatively using technology.