Those attuned to the job market will always fear the near future where automation steps in to take over many of the rote tasks that humans currently handle in the workforce. As more work becomes machine-centric, positions that have been traditionally filled will slowly phase out in favor of tasks that require a keen human mind or complex problem solving not suitable to machine solutions.
Surprisingly, automation will actually create more jobs than it replaces in its infancy.
More machines, more jobs
If you’ve spent any time in the tech industry you likely already know machines simply can’t run themselves. As automation ramps up in the hopes of reaching a point of replacing more repetitive tasks there have been nearly 2.7 million new jobs opened within the last year. It’s not just enough to have machines in place as there must also be humans behind them to create, maintain, fix, deploy and oversee mechanical solutions to human problems. Job growth is the current name of the game though that trend may not last.
There are well founded fears in the case of losing out on traditional factory and assembly line work that are often described as repetitive or boring. Roughly one in seven jobs are potentially going out the door and as many as a third might see serious restructuring once machines take over various aspects of the workplace. It is in this developmental period that a shift from line work to administrative and training roles makes for effective job transitions.
So while it may seem natural to panic over job loss it is far more effective to pivot attention from the bottom of the work structure to at least one level higher.
The not so secret human element
Current implementations of job automation tend to struggle with abstract concepts and often experience serious difficulty in management positions. A machine may be able to find points of data in a resume or plot potential causes for drops in stock prices, but they will fumble over long-term planning and human interaction for quite some time. Machines simply cannot replace human executives in any meaningful way and that trend will require serious leaps in machine learning before those jobs come under fire.
It is appropriate that many executive positions expect university educations as only a quarter of jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher are under a pressing risk of being turned over to machine control. Granted, there are surprising entries in that list as human resource departments are already pushing for automated hiring processes that highlight potential employees early in the screening process and even set up interviews without human intervention.
Many schools are pushing for earlier introductions to new courses in an effort to keep children from falling into an educational rut that could be more difficult to escape from as the employment landscape changes. Those who have already aged out of their early educations are most at risk of being left behind and adapting to a sudden lack of manual labor jobs after decades in the field makes for an uncertain future for some.
The market is changing, not shrinking
If you fear for your employment, the time to act is during the infancy of the digital revolution and not after it has taken place. Learning secondary skills, expanding your network or even seeking a degree are all solid starts. Those who truly wish to capitalize would do well to watch the trajectory of automation and find a job with a skill set that meshes well with the needs of the industry as it grows. Mechanical work, programming, or even machine team oversight will all require more hands as workplaces make bigger changes.
Though some jobs will only live on in antiquated stories there is little to fear from the so-called robotic revolution. Employment opportunities are set to increase across many fields, but taking advantage of these changes requires foresight and a plan to adapt before it is too late. Don’t expect your workplace to wait for you to come to terms with automation.