Business: Electric vehicles require less labor to assemble

Since EV’s need fewer workers to assemble, EVs may then be more attractive to manufacturers as they lower costs and potentially increase profits:

Not only is the industry grappling with falling consumer demand for cars, its shift to EVs will also cost even more jobs. EVs are simply easier to build and require fewer parts without an engine. The UAW expects the move away from gas engines could cut 35,000 jobs over the next several years, according to a research study conducted by the union last year.


STEM: “Apple CEO Tim Cook says 4-year degree not necessary for coding”

From last May:

“I don’t think a four year degree is necessary to be proficient at coding. I think that’s an old, traditional view. What we found out is that if we can get coding in the early grades and have a progression of difficulty over the tenure of somebody’s high school years, by the time you graduate kids like Liam, as an example of this, they’re already writing apps that could be put on the App Store,” TechCrunch quoted Cook as saying on Friday.

Source: Apple CEO Tim Cook says 4-year degree not necessary for coding

Left out of stories that we need more young people in STEM (they actually mean TE, not S-TE-M but use the terms interchangeably) is that much software work has turned into skilled labor, rather than engineering.

This occurred because the tools to develop software applications are far more advanced than in the past and are easier to use. 25 to 50 years ago, development of much software required an understanding of processor architecture and system hardware (and programming in assembly language), and the development and use of efficient algorithms to make use of the then limited hardware capabilities. Today, fast hardware often substitutes for inefficient and bloated software. Which makes sense as writing software is expensive while hardware is now cheap.

Much of the field has changed from very high skilled work requiring at least a 4-year college degree encompassing a variety of technical topics to narrow skill focused work such as writing Javascript applications. In effect, much software development is skilled labor rather than engineering. This seems true for many web applications and smart phone apps.

Of course there are still many positions requiring a college or graduate degree level training. But even there, experience may offer a good substitute to a degree.

Automation: McDonald’s fast food plows ahead with more automation

More automation going into McDonald’s outlets:

After closing the Dynamic Yield acquisition, McDonald’s quickly deployed its machine learning tech in more than 8,000 U.S. drive-thrus. The technology changes drive-thru menus based on the time of day, weather, traffic and the customer’s order — all to coax the customer to spend more

As labor costs rise, sometimes due to changes in minimum wage laws, retailers are increasingly deploying automation to reduce costs. This was going to happen regardless of minimum wage law increases but increases in required minimum wages are accelerating the trend to automation.

Not only does automation, and semi-automation like mobile apps and self order kiosks reduce costs, they say it also results in consumers spending more per order.

In the above example, McDonald’s is deploying systems to persuade or trick customers into buying more items or more expensive items than they may have been planning to purchase.