Business analysts, recruitment consultants and those whose job it is to measure, evaluate and comment on the evolving trends in the workplace state that change is coming. The next 10 years of employment trends will most likely define the remainder of the century. One trend the media seems particularly keen to push is how we’ll all be forced out of our jobs by robots. Some will certainly move to automation but it’s a leap to suggest humans won’t have jobs in 10 years.
Jobs that are Vulnerable to Automation
Extravagant media claims are often exaggerated and hyperbolic compared to reality. It’s a leap to say all our jobs will be “stolen by robots” in 10 years. However, business analysts acknowledge that many jobs are at risk from automation. Some of these include.
• Financial services: In the short term, we expect existing trends of reduced employee numbers giving way to technology to continue. Both retail and investment banking are likely to reduce employee numbers in favour of automation
• Driving / Transportation / Haulage: There has been much in the news about driverless cars. The technology is a long way from being perfect. This is considered a long-term and not a short-term risk.
• Manufacturing: industry has always been at threat from job losses from new technologies. In the developed world, and even in the emerging world, this trend has been in decline for decades.
These are the top three, but any job where a relatively large number of people are employed to do repetitive work that could easily be done by machines is at risk. Some are at short-term risk; others are on a more distant horizon.
Jobs Not Considered at Risk from Automation
Reports have also highlighted jobs at low or no risk from automation. Here is a small selection.
Health: Although mistakes happen in health, human empathy in the medical consultation, the ability to realise a mistake in administering (and stop) a medication that would kill or harm a patient is something a robot could never evaluate. Some processes may be automated but these are expected to be limited in number and scope.
Education: Teaching, classroom support, university lecturing requires subtle nuances, empathy and understanding, adaptability, intuition, emotional intelligence and many other human attributes that automation will most likely never automate.
Other “Social” Jobs: Repeatedly, it has been shown that any job requiring a high level of literacy skills (such as publication and reporting), social skills (such as counselling), human interaction and other social requirements are at low risk.
Complex Computational Roles: These include complex calculations such as analytical research and data modelling. These are considered too complex for automation, but also requiring a certain human interpretation and analysis.
Creative Work: Who wants pictures drawn by computers or novel written by robots? It’s likely that automation will never have the complex processes to create an emotive piece of art, a thrilling novel or moving piece of music. These emotional aspects of being human cannot be replicated.
Tradespeople: Plumbers, mechanics, electricians, gas fitters… all these jobs require human intuition, complex problem solving and analytical skills as well as manual dexterity, memory and reflexes.
No Robot World
Despite fears of employment cataclysm, and while many jobs are at risk of automation, a great many are not. As stated above, the media is prone to hyperbole. What is clear is that – once again – the world of work is on the verge of change. We have lost many industries but what is clear is that for every lost industry, several more will rise to replace them. It will mean a great change in how we approach work and jobs. However, with the rise of self-employment and remote working, some say that change is already underway.