There are certain trades from the past that are disappearing or that are so scarcely used that they have become practically extinct due to the constant evolution of the world and of technology. The world of labour has also adapted to this evolution in various ways.
It is said that the jobs of the future are still to be invented, that they will not be the same as the ones we see today. Well, as a result of this constant evolution, there are also jobs that have disappeared over time for various reasons. This article will highlight some of them.
‘Radar Men‘ from the early 20th century. Before the arrival of machines, it was men using acoustic mirrors and specific devices – to focus and detect the sound of enemy aircraft – who alerted the authorities of the presence of enemy aircraft. The emergence of radar in the Second World War (1939-1945) led to the disappearance of this task.
‘Rat hunters‘. A hazardous occupation due to the risk of infection as they made their way into depths of the cities to control the rodent population. Thanks to their work, urban sanitation standards improved considerably. Today, pesticides and other systems provide a more effective control of the rat population.
‘Pinsetters‘. These were usually young people – children in many cases – dedicated to resetting the pins in a bowling alley once they had been knocked over. Technology has replaced this task once performed by humans. Another example of how machines have assisted and, in many cases, replaced people.
‘Knocker-uppers‘. In the past, there were no automatic alarm clocks with strident tones. It was complicated to wake up in the morning. In many cases, men or women would knock on people’s windows with a stick to indicate it was time to get up. There were also people who woke up the neighbours by playing a flute. In those days, building only had a few storeys and it was not as difficult as it would be today to reach the top floor. This job also had its risks, especially from people who were grumpy when woken up.
‘Ice cutters’. If any invention has helped people’s domestic lives, that must have been the fridge and freezer. In the past, if someone wanted ice at home, they had to go to these men who, in extreme conditions, would cut ice from frozen lakes to sell.
Lamplighter. Until the arrival of electric streetlights, this trade was performed by men and women who would light all the street lamps in the city using a long stick with a wick on the end. Can you imagine such a job today? It would have the trade unions up in arms over the long hours required to light all the street lamps in a city.
‘Log drivers’. This job used to be commonplace in the past. People transported logs down rivers by standing on top of them and driving them to a specific point; usually a sawmill. In the United States, it was a highly-demanded job.
Telephone operators. A very useful job required to keep a telephone network running. Who has not seen films where people are plugging in cables to connect calls? Everything works automatically in the digital world of today.
Resurrectionists or ‘grave robbers‘. Surprisingly, it used to be the universities that needed dead bodies for research. As they could not always acquire them legally, they sought other ways of obtaining them. They would contact these people who would dig up graves and take the bodies of the deceased. A job that would find few volunteers today…
Factory readers. A job that has virtually disappeared except in places like Cuba, where there are still people who read the newspaper through a PA system for the benefit of the workers.
Some jobs that are on the way
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the jobs of tomorrow are still to come. The word innovation has been used by everyone in recent times. I shall now mention some fields and professions in which progress is being made and that could result in jobs. One of them is the field of genetics and related research, environmental, software, IT and civil engineering are also fields where companies predict high levels of growth.
Fields related to health (medicine, psychology and mental health, among others) will also be of great importance due to the ageing of the population – especially in Europe. Due to globalization and its implications, the world is becoming interconnected and this will be a very important field for entrepreneurs. Many of them have dedicated their efforts to App development.
In an article published by the newspaper Expansion and that we reproduced recently in the Novia Salcedo Foundation Twitter account (@noviasalcedo), a report by Sodexo divided 30 professions into three groups (career mergers, problem solving and everything related to equipment). The first group was a mixture of human health and the environment, which has given rise to the field of environmental health nursing.
The second consists of activities related to solving problems as a professional career. It is in this scenario in which all sorts of jobs related to managing the digital fingerprint come into play. The most futuristic jobs will be in the third group. From the head of relations among avatars to the architect of global systems: Digital archaeologist, healer, plant psychologist… you choose.