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The End of Professionalism?

The original concept of 'Professionalism' comes from labor philosophy and ethics for professions or experts in any fields who maintain high standard through rigorous training and education and hold qualifications.

Historically, physician, jurist (judge & lawyer), and priest were regarded as professionals. Later, business person (president and executive), educator, sport athlete, engineer, and others also expect they are treated as professionals. In many cases, they enjoy their high social status, respect, and payment.

However, these days, I have my concern about the end of professionalism. In the 21st Century, I worry if the word, Professionalism, will be a dead word. People will no longer use this word. In my point of view, three societal factors are about to change the situation.

The first factor is over-production of professionals. In the US, only two percent of the US citizens hold PhDs or doctorates, but the number of new PhDs is increasing every year. As a result, the job market in education and research is shrinking. For instance, in Tokyo, Japan, the number of dentist is larger than that of grocery stores (we Japanese call 'convenient stores'). As a result, some dental clinics were already bankrupted.

The second factor is chronic global recession since financial crisis in 2008. There is a strong link between education and economics. Parents spend big money for their children's education. This is a kind of investment. Parents expect their children will become professionals like doctors, lawyers, and business executives. However, because global economy has been collapsed, even top professionals may not be able to receive higher salary than ever.

The third factor is technological revolution. As many people worry, machine may replace human. In fact, AI robot is being experimentally used in medical operation rooms. Self-driving cars will be used in the future.

It seems to me that professionalism is a kind of our faith rather than philosophy or core value. We spend time, energy and money to become professional. Becoming professional often demands commitment, dedication, and even sacrifice. Nevertheless, many people admire being professional because professional people contribute to humanity as well as demonstrate human possibility.

The end of professionalism caused by the information age could lead to intellectual laziness.

Also, read this article.


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