Skills atrophy if not used.
Back in the days of the Model T you had to know how to hand-crank the car to start it. Knowing how to remove the cylinder heads to de-coke the pistons was almost an essential skill. Further back you had to know how to curry a horse, and all the vast array of skills of animal handling to survive.
When's the last time you needed to know how to shoe a horse? 🙂
Automation is no different. Our industry has a sadistic delight in reinventing the wheel. Some of it is good--remember the days of RPG and 80 column punch cards? Do you still know how to automate a keypunch machine? How about running a card sorter? Or wiring a board for a card interpreter?
But some of it is horrible. The way we have to cobble together systems that are actively hostile to interoperation is a constant pain that should not be. The constant deluge of new programming languages are largely ego projects by companies seeking monetary dominion and offer no real practical advantages. Sure, some are better suited to narrow application niches, but how many programming languages now exist? How many existed in the past that no one remembers?
How many people need to create Make files? How many need to know Cobol or RPG these days?
I can't remember how many languages and dialects of programming languages I've learned over the decades. The number certainly exceeds 50, probably approaching 100. How many am I currently using?
TWO. And one of them is for front-end development while the other is for the back end.
I'm a lone wolf programmer, a whole devops team in and of myself. Been that way most of my career. I learned a hard lesson in that time. When you have to do everything yourself you learn to pick and choose your battles. Given the choice of deep knowlege of a few languages and tools versus shallow knowledge about many tools and languages it's better to have deep knowledge on a few things when you don't have a team to spread the load.
In my experience automating the grunt work is a god-send. I don't have time to spend doing things a computer can (and should) do. Compilers being a prime example. Would you really want to have to compile a program from source to machine language by hand?
Didn't think so.... 🙂