Automation of jobs through technological advances have been forecast for years but analysis has shown that progress towards this eventuality may be accelerating.
Which jobs are at risk?
Researchers at Oxford University published a widely referenced study in 2013 on the likelihood of computerization for different occupations.
Out of around 700 occupations, 12 were found to have a 99 per cent chance of being automated in the future:
- Data Entry Keyers
- Library Technicians
- New Accounts Clerks
- Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators
- Tax Preparers
- Cargo and Freight Agents
- Watch Repairers
- Insurance Underwriters
- Mathematical Technicians
- Sewers, Hand
- Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers
- Restaurant Cooks
- Line and short order Cooks
All these occupations share a predictable pattern of repetitive activities, the likes of which are possible to replicate through Machine Learning algorithms.
Which jobs are safe?
At the other end of the scale some occupations are very likely to be automated in the near future. The following list comprises the eight occupations with a 0.35 per cent or less probability of being computerized based on current technology.
- Recreational Therapists
- First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
- Emergency Management Directors
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
- Occupational Therapists
- Orthotics and Prosthetics
- Healthcare Social Workers
These roles come from a mix of sectors but share a level of expertise that is only required after years of study. Many of them also require a level of human interaction that may take many more years for computer programs to replicate.
Low income workers face redeployment
Most studies on automation stop short of saying that jobs will be completely eliminated by automation. Rather, workers will be redeployed.
The 2013 study from Oxford University concludes: “Our model predicts a truncation in the current trend towards labor market polarization, with computerization being principally confined to low-skill and low-wage occupations.
“Our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerization – i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”
Not every member of the current workforce will be able acquire these skills and automation will doubtless lead to many labor disputes.
However, in the long run, automation should lead to a productivity increase and hopefully a workforce that isn’t required to do some of the more mindless tasks they now endure.
Cooks in restaurants, fast food and short order lend themselves to replication that may allow the process to be computerized. However, Personal Chefs and Event Chefs are less likely to be computerized due to the fact there is a high degree of creativity as well as personal interaction with the consumer. The takeaway is that many cooks should seek to pursue these fields rather than laboring in restaurants. It is this pool of cooks as well as existing Personal and Event Chefs that can benefit from the processes offered by Giggin.’