robot contractor plastering a wallIt would be easy for readers to dismiss this article as some kind of science fiction banter, but the truth is that automation has been replacing human jobs for over a century now, so it’s really science reality. What’s changing now is the sheer scale and intellectual capacity of job automation by ‘software substitution’, and it’s something that all workers, job seekers and agency recruiters should be aware of.

A study by Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey (Oxford Martin School) and Dr. Michael A. Osborne (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford) late last year has found that almost half, (yes half) of U.S. jobs could be at real risk of automation over the next 20 years, leading to significant job losses. Certain sectors and professions seemed to be more at risk than others from job losses arising from computerization. The high risk jobs were in transportation, logistics, office and administration support. They also found that jobs within the service sector are also susceptible to job losses arising from automation.

This has real implications for agency recruiters and job seekers as over the next 20 years there will be a real and sustained reduction in demand for specific jobs as a result of automation. The question then is are you currently working or hiring in an area that is at high risk of job reduction through automation? You can see how likely your profession is to suffer job losses as a result of automation by looking at pages 57-72 of this PDF titled, “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?” You will find 700 professions listed along with the likelihood of job losses in each profession over the next 20 years due to automation.

Some of the jobs that are thought to be most at risk from automation are: telemarketers, insurance underwriters and claims processors, tax preparers, mathematical technicians, secretaries and admin assistants, gaming dealer, waiters and waitresses, retail salespersons, roofers, HR assistants, and typists.

Some of the safest jobs, which have the least risk of automation, are: recreational therapists, occupational therapists, physicians and surgeons, personal trainers, psychologists, nurses, certain teachers, editors, graphic designers, electricians, software developers.

This is just a snapshot, and I suggest you take a look at the list yourself to see where your profession or hiring sectors of interest fit in the risk profile.

Now, this may seem a little depressing if you are in an area where job losses are likely to be inflicted by automation over the next two decades, but you do have options. And none of them involves you starting a Sarah Connor style war on machines. Rather, generally, over time you should be looking to work in or focus in jobs or skills areas that are not susceptible to automation. We know the jobs that are susceptible as was shown above, but the report also showed which skills were least susceptible to automation and these include: assisting and caring for others, persuasion, negotiation, social perceptiveness, and originality.

These findings dovetail well with the results of a recent Career-Builder study of 2,000 hiring managers, which revealed that 77 percent of them felt that soft skills (or social skills) were just as important as hard skills in hiring.

So, in conclusion, if you want to future proof yourself or your hiring agency you might want to begin, over time, focusing in areas/jobs that are the least susceptible to automation and have a focus on originality and social and interpersonal skills.

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