Is disruption new?

By March 20, 2018Current

TL;DR – If not, then why are we so unprepared? 

I was at the cinema the other day when this advertisement came on,

Now, I’m a huge fan of good advertisements but not all advertisements give me the same takeaway. This particular ad felt more like a sales pitch but yet, got me thinking too.

Is disruption really something new?

You know how much our government has been emphasizing on disruptive technologies not just because of how it is disrupting our lifestyles but more importantly, because how it will affect our jobs and hence the Singapore workforce.

We are worried how the changes in demand for labour will affect the rank and file workers.

But I also can’t help but feel that if disruption isn’t exactly something new, then shouldn’t we be more prepared to deal with it. I mean, isn’t disruption a part of every product life cycle?

It’s more than just about robots taking over jobs, it’s about the people being unable to adapt and keep up with the world.

Haven’t things always been like that? Or am I wrong?

I mean, computers came and typewriters became obsolete.

Digital cameras caused film to be diminished to be nothing more than just a hobby for a very niche group of followers.

Travelling a little further in history, we see how the invention of cars led to horse carts and rickshaws becoming obsolete.

You get the gist by now, I’m sure. The idea is the same, isn’t it? That it is highly unlikely for the rickshaw pullers to become a car driver immediately. So what’s next for them? It’s either they pick up the challenge and up-skill themselves to learn how to drive a car or simply move on to some other work which can be just as challenging assuming that one might not have other skills or experience as well.

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There were approximately 50,000 rickshaws in 1920 and that number doubled by 1930 accordingly to Wikipedia. That is actually double the number of taxis currently on the road now which stands at 25,699 as at last July. The number of people affected by the change is technically twice as many. Of course, circa 1920s, there was a union called the Rickshaw Association formed to protect the welfare of rickshaw workers as well but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t anything such as SkillsFuture back then.

How did they tackle such issues? How did they tide over the hard times and support their families? I’m not saying that just because we have survived something once, it means that we will definitely be able to do it again.

But shouldn’t it be a norm that we are all aware of and can be a little more calm about? Is our government overreacting? Are you confident to say that you will not be affected even if the industry you are in now is going to get hit by some form of disruption? How ready are we? If we are not, is our government spoon feeding Singaporeans a little too much now? If our government did not constantly bring this up, will we be aware and do something about it ourselves? Is it simply a case of because I voted for you, so you must do everything for me? Are we way too entitled then as Singaporeans?

What changed? What happened to us? Are we really the strawberry generation? Are we really too weak for any hardship?

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Smith Leong

Author Smith Leong

Social Media Trainer @ NTUC | Youth Mentor | Labour Champion | Photographer | Content Creator |

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