Homes nowadays have features that enable lights to turn on and off automatically as people enter and exit rooms. You can order Alexis to play your favorite recordings or TV shows. You can program appliances remotely via your cell phone. You can buy a toilet that pampers your tush, and enjoy HVAC systems that can set different comfort levels in every room in a large house.
Even cars are getting “smart.” They are starting to drive themselves. Even those that still require a human behind the wheel have beepers and cameras that warn of pedestrians and other vehicles in the vicinity.
The world we live in today would seem like something out of science fiction to people born more than a generation ago. Advances in computer technology make it all possible, of course. Let’s give a round of applause to all the hardware and software engineers that have developed so many incredible devices.
But you know what? None of these amazing smart devices are foolproof. Many are complicated to install and everything has a breaking point. Our modern world requires sophisticated technicians to install, maintain, diagnose and repair complicated devices when they stop functioning as they should. Pilots get all the glory, but our lives depend just as much on the airplane mechanics we never meet.
Skilled tradespeople such as aircraft and auto mechanics, electricians, HVAC technicians and even plumbers have not been rendered obsolete by modern technology. But they must keep learning. Just like doctors and lawyers, they need to constantly upgrade their skills and learn the ins and outs of new technologies and techniques. You wouldn’t want to be operated on by a surgeon whose knowledge ended in medical school several decades ago. Nor do you want to have your furnace fixed by someone whose training has not been upgraded in decades.
Those of you who were raised with computers and other modern electronics have a big advantage over older tradespeople, some of whom were born before there were TVs in almost every home. You grew up playing video games and using smart phones. You know intuitively how modern gadgets work.
This is a big advantage as you pursue a trade career. The trades are no longer about muscle power to turn wrenches and haul heavy equipment around. They are more focused on figuring out how things work and how to fix them when they don’t.
But you must keep learning. Today’s plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems are dazzling compared to those of years ago. Yet those that will appear in coming decades will be more dazzling still. Those of you who keep up to speed will be in high demand and headed for a good life.