Is automation going to impact your job?
It’s very hard to predict what the future will hold, particularly in current circumstances. Automation is increasingly being utilised within the workforce and the impact of COVID has likely pushed this forward quicker. So where does that leave employees and future employees in industries strongly affected by automation?
Impacts of automation
One of the biggest issues most employees are likely to confront is how automation is changing the world of work. Technology is rapidly changing the way we live, and therefore the way we work.
Technology and artificial intelligence make it easier to automate routine jobs, but also creates opportunities for jobs that don’t currently exist, or completely new ways of doing some roles.
What jobs are more likely to be automated?
Every time you go to your local supermarket, you see the effect of automation on jobs. Supermarket checkout operators are part of the almost one-third of the workforce who spend their time doing simple or routine tasks, or working to a strict schedule – these are the roles which are the easiest to automate.
These types of roles include machine operators in many industries, construction workers, fast food workers, financial analysts, and legal clerks.
If you are a younger worker, just starting on your career journey, this could mean fewer entry-level jobs available to support study or launch your career.
What jobs are less likely to be automated?
All of us have the one essential thing that is the most difficult to automate – we are all human, and as humans, we like interacting with other humans.
Being human is likely to be increasingly leveraged in the future. Roles that require interacting with other people, using emotional intelligence and creativity, or being empathetic are roles that machines will not be as capable of doing.
We are already seeing huge growth in roles in healthcare, particularly in light of COVID, as the population grows and ages – nurses, aged carers, disability workers, and allied professionals such as physiotherapists. Personal services roles such as massage therapists, beauty therapists, and fitness instructors have all seen growth well in excess of 20% over the last 5 years.
As all types of work becomes increasingly enabled by technology, the distinct advantage of humans is their ability to interact and to communicate meaningfully with other humans, and therefore to understand and build relationships.
Changes driven by automation
Most jobs will change, rather than disappear
For the majority of workers, at least in the short to medium term, the effect of automation will be that their jobs will change, rather than disappear.
The first thing you might have to think about, if you are already in the workforce, is whether you need to upskill to do your job differently.
Let’s say you are a power plant operator, carrying out a range of manual tasks relating to mechanical machinery operation. While your job will still exist, you might now need some stronger IT skills and an understanding of control systems, to manage and monitor equipment and automated processes remotely from a control room.
If you believe, however, that the job you do, or the career you have chosen, is likely to be in the category of most affected by automation, then you will likely have to rethink your career path and where your skill set would fit best.
There is no doubt that current education and training is struggling to meet some of the challenges for the future workforce. It may be up to you to be more proactive in managing your career, and creating a path for yourself. You may need to identify the skills you need to develop, and work out how you are going to acquire those skills.
What does that mean for job seekers?
You’ve probably heard a lot lately about STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths. Research has shown that STEM skills make workers more creative and adaptable. They are also the skills that enable us to work with machines – increasingly important across the entire world of work. People with STEM skills and knowledge are valued in the workplace, even when the qualification they have is not a requirement for the role they are doing.
Transferable skills which enable you to be more adaptable to different roles in the workplace will also be increasingly important. These skills would include problem solving, agile learning, organisational skills and teamwork skills.
The CareerHQ careers database has over 900 job descriptions which cover the activities you would likely do on a day-to-day basis, the skills you need to do that job, what qualifications you need, and importantly, the future outlook for that occupation.
It’s a great place to start to explore jobs of the future, and the skills you will need to do them.