BC jobs plan and the APM Revolution

New Year. New beginnings. Is everyone ready for the APM Revolution? The world’s labour market will be dramatically changing with the coming APM Revolution. Is BC ready?

So far we have had 3 well documented revolutions:
Agricultural Revolution – farming fields of food
Industrial Revolution – introduction of combustion engine
Information Revolution – digital age

These revolutions have dramatically changed the structure of our labour force.

Automation and Nanotechnology
What is the APM Revolution? APM stands for ‘Atomic Precise Manufacturing‘. It deals with patterns of atoms and depends on nano-scale machinery.

When thinking of APM think of a machine that builds objects out of patterns of atoms just as an ink jet printer builds images out of patterns of ink.

Actually, the nano-scale technology revolution has already arrived. For example, billions of transistors can be put on a single chip. The reason APM is going to be so huge is that materials can be fabricated like never before. For example, various minerals will no longer be needed in the future. This means we won’t have to mine for them. This will change entire supply chains.

Micro-Nano fabrication - the APM Revolution
Micro-Nano fabrication – the APM Revolution

At UBC’s Micro-Nano fabrication facility they are conducting ground breaking research into new nano-scale materials and also at the Micro-machining and Nano Fabrication Labs at the University of Alberta.

Imagine people having the ability to build highly cross-linked polymers in their own homes at a low cost. Imagine you could use your home printer to produce a solar panel the size of a dinner plate which would be capable of heating your entire home.

Technological Unemployment
Compare Kodak to Instagram. Kodak once directly employed almost 150,000 people not including its extensive supply chain and retail distribution.  Kodak filed for bankruptcy 132 years later and around the same time Instagram was created by 15 people and sold to Facebook for over one billion dollars.

Those 15 people who created Instagram became billionaires.  Mr. Eastman the founder of Kodak was never listed as a billionaire.

Luddite Syndrome
The APM Revolution will cause some to try to protect their ways of old. Mr. Ludd was an English textile worker in the early 1800s who sparked a movement against the weaving machines that were taking over workers’ jobs.  Nowadays it is energy corporations and cartels who are doing their best to curtail scientific advancement in order to protect their interests.

Every sector is undergoing change from music, finance, media, retail, publishing, distribution, services, and of course manufacturing.  How can our labour force avoid becoming redundant?

LNG – BC jobs plan
Where does the APM Revolution fit in with BC’s LNG job plan? Will there be a need for many workers with increased automation?

The BC Jobs Plan was launched in September 2011. The BC government is claiming to be creating a new industry for workers in liquefied natural gas. The BC Jobs plan is to open eight new mines by 2015 and upgrade nine mines, build at least one LNG terminal in Kitimat and pipeline by 2015 and have three LNG terminals in operation by 2020. So far approximately $35 million has been spent on marketing the BC Job plans.

For those interested there is a two day conference in Nanaimo this Tuesday and Wednesday, January 13, 14th for parents and their children to discover a career path in LNG.

The BC government estimates that there will be nearly one million job openings between now and 2020 in British Columbia. Of these, 43% are technical and skilled occupations.  Given the progress of automation, are these job numbers realistic?

Energy for what?
BC Hydro is planning to meet the power demands required by new LNG facilities by building Site C.  The cost is estimated at about $8 billion. If this project is anything like Quebec Hydro then the cost increases will be much closer to $24 billion. Who will pay for this debt? The taxpayers of BC of course.

Rise of the Robots and APM Revolution
Will the worker go the way of the horse? No. But there will be a huge change in what people do for a living. Will LNG jobs be the answer for the unemployed in BC? No. Automation will make many of these jobs obsolete. APM will make many materials used today not even worth digging out of the ground.

Here are some occupations that will probably disappear in the future:

  • taxi drivers (thanks to driverless vehicles)
  • truck drivers
  • warehouse workers
  • factory workers

Here are some occupations that will probably grow:

  • communication specialists
  • propaganda multi-media producers
  • specialized intelligence officers to work in BC


2015 promises to be a great year full of new innovations and inventions that will create mega-abundance down the road.  The big question is can we close the digital divide so everyone can benefit from the APM Revolution.