Job challenges of the cyber age

Job challenges of the cyber age

Huge registers collecting dust may be outdated even in government and semi-government offices. Bank customers may wait for attention at the counters where the employees are busy looking at the computer screen and typing away furiously on the keyboard. Almost all railway stations in the country have computerised reservation offices. So, what does these mean to citizens in the country, some of whom are suffering from a fear complex of the cyber-age? They were more comfortable with people and registers and personalised service at a leisurely pace. Now everyone is busy, in offices or even in homes, working on computers. Cash-issuing clerks are being replaced by smart ATMs.

The fact is the cyber-age is on - the hope that it will go away as a fad is misplaced. Unless everyone is prepared to handle the cyber-age in a proper manner, he will have the same fate as the dinosaurs. Some of the middle-aged and older persons who think that the cyber-age is of no use to them are facing a bleak future. In offices, computer literacy is necessary and now all recruitments, at most places, are based, besides other requirements, on the candidates’ proficiency in computers. That explains why IT education is receiving more attention. Even small ‘children attend some of these classes, as summer courses. Good educational institutions have set up their own computer laboratories where teachers and students are trained to use them for educational purposes. Some of the software packages are targeted towards enhancing learning skills.

Those who want to enter the job market have a tough time now with the market for jobs shrinking in every sector. The IT balloon has almost burst, dashing the hopes of millions of job seekers. Many young men and women who opted for IT industry are in trouble.
They find that even big IT companies are paring their staff strength and new recruitments are put on hold. This was bound to happen, eventually, given the fact that the IT industry is a service industry and does not manufacture consumer products. Its application may be across the board, but it still has its limits for adoption. The more sophisticated the IT package, like the ERP solutions, the more complicated and expensive these will be to buy and train the people. Faced with a cash crunch, some of the prospective industries have opted for smaller software packages or postponed their introduction for the future hoping for an upturn in the recessionary market of the present.

The ordinary person who may not be directly into the IT business has to cope with the burgeoning use of computers practically in every walk of life. For instance, PCs have made deep inroads into Indian homes. Thanks to the E Mail, cyber chat and others, very few consumers would like to be left behind in using computers for their daily needs. With the click of a mouse, he can access any airline / train schedule and book a ticket for himself. If one knows the PNR number one can find out one’s rail reservation status in seconds instead of phoning lines, which are always busy or commute long distance to the railway reservation counters. With the internet banking, a customer has a choice - not to go to the bank but carry out all the transactions - credit, debit, status of account et al from the comfort of one’s home.  Gone are the days where one had to issue cheques and stand in a line to pay electricity, water, and telephone bills. Banking through the electronic way, like the ECS, has saved much of the hassles. For some customers, such a change is too drastic and they will need more time mentally to get used to the ‘paper-less’ way.

A word of caution, however, is useful. Computers do not commit mistakes, but people do! So it is always better to check whether a certain transaction has taken place on time and correctly. Crediting a wrong account in a bank transaction may be rare but still goes on. Then there are the credit / debit card frauds which are one of the biggest frauds going on. That is why one has to be careful about such transactions where direct interface may be unavailable. A blind trust in the system has to be replaced with a certain degree of caution as we might be dealing with a few persons who may be inefficient, crooked or corrupt. However, such freak mishaps should not deter a person going the electronic way. For example, credit / debit cards are a boon to the consumers replacing bank notes with a plastic card. For sheer convenience, nothing can beat these. The advantages of the cyber-age far outweigh the lacunae, largely man-made, and deserve careful consideration even by those conservative persons who are happy purchasing with crisp notes and who are comfortable looking at human faces. Those who are keen to be in step with the cyber-age, should put in self-study or attend IT courses to become computer literate at least.

(The writer is a HR consultant)

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