In 2013 a study by Oxford University called The Future of Employment examined 702 common occupations and found that some jobs – telemarketers, tax preparers and sports referees, are more at risk than others like psychologists, dentists and physicians. But are there any jobs you didn’t anticipate might be at risk?
Before we get into the list, it is important to mention that in the past a lot of reports on the death of human jobs have been greatly exaggerated. Technology has created a lot more roles than it has whipped out. It’s called the “Luddite Fallacy”, in reference to the 19th-century group of textile workers who smashed the new weaving machinery that made their skills redundant. Further, in the last 60 years automation has only eliminated one occupation: elevator operators.
Despite the optimistic predictions that new technology would increase prosperity and lower hard, monotonous work, very few of us are working the 15-hour work week that, in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted would be the norm for his grandkids. If anything, we’re working 15-hour days.
Today’s technological revolution is an entirely different beast from the industrial revolution. The pace of change is exponentially faster and far wider in scope. As Stanford University academic Jerry Kaplan writes in Humans Need Not Apply: today, automation is “blind to the color of your collar.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re a factory worker, a financial advisor or a professional flute-player: automation is coming for you.
Journalists are already churning out content written by PR and marketing professionals. They are often understaffed, overworked and the expectation for free content that the new media has created means there is less time and resources being distributed for quality research.
Advanced developments in artificial intelligence software mean that soon enough even writing won’t be a problem for AI, and in some cases it’s already been possible to use it for purposes such as creating quarterly reports. Combine that with the fact that most articles nowadays are largely based on press releases with little input from the professional journalists and this suggests that in the future content could be created with any human input at all.
Law remains one of the more desired courses for ambitious young people who want to ensure they will have a stable and reputable job when they walk out of university. That being said, it the next 20 years it might be only the experienced and well educated lawyers who have jobs.
Roles such as paralegal and legal assistants face a 94% probability of having their job computerized and could become extinct with robots taking over the more repetitive tasks. According to a recent study by Deloitte, more than 100,000 jobs (or 39% of the jobs) in the legal sector have a high chance of being automated in the next 20 years.
3. Stock trader
Long are the days of Jordan Belfort and Gordon Gekko. A study done by Bloomberg analysts in late 2015 discovered that only 10% of the stocks traded on a daily basis worldwide, are traded by actual humans and investors. The rest is AI.
Interesting fact about the automation of the stock market?Let’s say you want to buy a particular stock. You go to your favorite trading platform or secured portfolio management dashboard, you fill in the info with how much you want to buy at a trading price and hit “buy”. In the time it takes for the single to reach the servers and approve the order, the AI has already realised you’re going to purchase that stock. They bought it for themselves, traded it between themselves and then sold it to you at a bigger price. That is something a human would simply not be able to do.
We have already heard that driverless cars are becoming increasingly popular in the tech world and taxi drivers may soon be out of work. But how do you feel about your plane not having a pilot?
As early as 2016, the New York Post was already reporting that pilots were likely to find their jobs on the chopping block, thanks to competition from robots. Autopilot features have long supported pilots in the air—in fact, pilots generally assume control of their airplanes only during takeoff and landing. Those two tasks, however, are being taught to their mechanical competitors, and it’s likely that both humans and cargo will soon be shuttled around in pilotless planes.
Even air traffic controllers aren’t safe. Air traffic controllers have long been beacons for pilots, helping them find their destination airport and guiding them along their way. That guidance, however, is already being replaced with automation and it likely won’t take anywhere near 20 years for person-less flight towers to become a reality.
- Conservation worker
Protecting our nature has been more important than ever, however, how we approach that task is likely to change. While developing, maintaining and protecting forests remains necessary, many of the tasks performed by forest and conservation workers—such as tree counting and identifying—can now be done by new technologies, such as remote sensing.
That means fewer people will be necessary to accomplish the same amount of work. On the other hand, the increasing frequency of wildfires may fuel greater demand for these workers because only they can prevent—and suppress—forest fires.
How can you prepare yourself for the change that’s coming?
It is vital to keep adopting new skills, learning about new technology and understanding the roles that will emerge and prevail in the future. So what skills should you invest in?
Entrepreneurship will always be a vital skill. The ability to think of a new business and build it from the ground up is not something robots will be able to achieve any time soon because of the number of complex skills it requires combined with the need for original, out of the box thinking.
Digital Marketing is another skill that is here to stay. While journalism as a job may largely decline, there will be a need for the people who write the original copy that represents businesses. Furthermore, Digital Marketing also combines analytical with creative skills and requires professionals to juggle multiple different tasks at the same time.
Last, but definitely not least is coding. Most of the roles that will overtake the ones described on our list will require coders skilled in various coding languages.
Justin Tobin, founder of the innovation consultancy DDG, says he believes: “More and more independent thinkers are realizing that when being an employee is the equivalent to putting all your money into one stock – a better strategy is to diversify your portfolio. So you’re seeing a lot more people looking to diversify their career.”
Faith Popcorn, a futurist, echoes the idea that we will all have to become as agile as possible and “have many forms of talent and work that you can provide the economy”.