22 May Will Robots Take Our Jobs?
There’s been a lot in the press lately about how computerisation and robots are negatively impacting our careers, taking over jobs once mastered by humans. How big is the threat and what steps can you take to ensure you keep your job? While it’s difficult to predict with absolute certainty which jobs will be affected and to what extent, it’s safe to say that all of us will need to adapt in some way to technological advances in the workplace.
Brian Johnson, a Futurist at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, points out that big business’s push for productivity demands efficiency, speed and accuracy which has led to robots taking over our jobs. However, Johnson reassures us that humans outperform robots in the areas of communication, creativity and adaptability, keeping many jobs safe from computerisation.
In an effort to identify those jobs most at risk, Oxford University Researchers have developed a methodology to categorise occupations enabling them to estimate the probability of computerisation of over 700 occupations. They identified jobs in transport and logistics along with office and admin support roles to be at highest risk. Service occupations were also identified to be at high risk of being taken over by computerisation and robotics.
Some of the least susceptible occupations are those requiring a considerable range of technical, communication and interpersonal skills including occupational therapists, dentists and psychologists. Jobs requiring critical thinking in the face of human and other challenges appear to be most difficult to replace.
The top 20 careers least likely to be computerised:
- Recreational Therapists
- First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
- Emergency Management Directors
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
- Occupational Therapists
- Orthotists and Prosthetists
- Healthcare Social Workers
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
- First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers
- Dietitians and Nutritionists
- Lodging Managers
- Sales Engineers
- Physicians and Surgeons
- Instructional Coordinators
- First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
- Elementary School Teachers
As we have seen in the past, changes are likely to occur over time in line with the development of technology and changes in human behaviour. We have seen the impact in the retail sector where self-scanning has become the norm in our supermarkets as has internet shopping where a few clicks can see anything from the weekly groceries to a new car arrive at your doorstep. Fast food outlets like KFC and McDonalds have automated their ordering systems forcing customers to place their orders at touch screen kiosks rather than with a staff member at the counter.
What can you do?
Diversify your skills
Amid a landscape of change and uncertainty it’s vital that we diversify our knowledge and skills to enable us to leverage these when needed. T-shaped individuals are more likely to be kept on over the less versatile and adaptable as well as being sought by employers to take on a variety of roles often at a higher level.
Develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
One of the biggest advantages we have over robots is the ability to manage complex communication using abstract thoughts. The development of our emotional intelligence enables us to function optimally when communicating with others and achieve our goals.
Learn to be adaptable
Adaptability is one of the most valuable skills you can develop. While some find it easy to be adaptable, others may feel like a fish out of water in the face of change. If this is you, try stepping back and looking at your role in terms of the bigger picture. Think creatively about how you could do things differently. For example, by taking on new tasks, responding to challenges in innovative ways, or communicating with others differently.
The most effective way to respond to technological advances which might impact on your career is to keep well-informed of what’s going on in your industry and any changes that might affect your role. It’s important to keep your skills updated, stay informed of emerging trends and understand any possible implications to your role so you can respond accordingly.
Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns&HumServ), DipCareerGuid, RCDP, MCDI, MAC is a Registered Career Coach and Career Development Consultant at CareerWorx with more than 18 years’ experience helping people plan and manage their careers.