“The problem is not the jobs. It’s us. Most humans are simply not the kind of people a boss would want to hire.”


Sun, Mar 31st, 2013 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the heteconomist, a blog with "thoughts from the economic heterodoxy," autor 'peterc', sporting a bachelor of economics topped with a Ph.D. explains why so many jobs are crappy.

McJobs are those where learning is either nonexistent or extremely rapid but short-lived. If there is no learning, c = Λ = 0 and the learning curve would just be a horizontal straight line showing a constant unit labor cost of m. Rapid but short-lived learning would mean the learning curve slopes down almost vertically until m is nearly reached, then stays almost flat after that. It would probably take most of us a half shift to master flipping burgers, but after that we'd have it down pat. Bosses love McJobs. They make us readily replaceable.

Satisfying jobs — let's call them 'good jobs' — will generally be ones where learning occurs at a steady pace more or less indefinitely, probably as part of a defined career path. Bosses would prefer not to offer these, and will always be looking for ways to deskill roles that, for now at least, need to allow workers greater autonomy, ingenuity, and scope for on-the-job learning.

Once you gain experience in a good job, you will soon become much more efficient in the role than an inexperienced replacement would be. This might remain true even if you happen to win a pay rise, work less hours, or start operating at a more leisurely — let's say human — pace. Any of these things would shift your learning curve up, because you would now have a higher unit labor cost at any given level of experience. Even so, you might still be more efficient than a prospective replacement.



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