The Future of the Job Market

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The job market is always changing from how the day-to-day work is carried out to what new jobs and careers are forming and looking to be filled. One big factor that influences how the job market changes is technology. For compared to the past a well known technology seen in any workplace today is computers and the many uses it has provided in improving our daily work. Technology has allowed us to digitize, share, and correct the work we do much more easily and efficiently than ever before. As well, technology has helped create new jobs, like app developer or content created, which did not exist even 10 years ago (1). With such influences from technology and its continuous improvements there are many who look to the future and wonder what jobs would still be available and which would be taken over by technology.

Common Belief of Technology and the Workplace

With the common belief that jobs in the future will be taken over and made automated by technology can be worrisome, especially since it is believed 47% of American jobs could be automated in the next couple of decades according to a paper by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne (2). It is through their paper they look at the impact advances in technology have had on the workplace and which jobs are likely to be automated. Being aware of these influences is important to consider for anyone looking to choose a career or is in a career because no one wants to end up in a career that is dying.

Even though technology will only become more part of the workplace, it is believed that careers will not simple die off because of automation. Rather it will be the specific work and activities done in these careers that would be automated. For example, a doctor could spend less time diagnosing due to being automated by a machine and spend more time treating a patient. Or a financial planner can spend less time analyzing and reporting and more on coming up with ways for a client to save and manage better,

The work technology is believed to automate effects all different kinds of careers from low-level waged jobs to high-level waged jobs, not just minimum wage, labour jobs as commonly believed. The idea Frey and Osborne express in their paper is that instead of thinking of jobs or careers as being replaceable by technology, think more in terms of the activities being replaceable and automated by technology. For activities in a career can be divided, according to the paper, into social intelligence, creativity, and perception and manipulation abilities. Each of these suggest that for the activities done for a certain career require at least one of these skills at different levels, it is that difference in level which determines how much technology could be automated for the activities of a career.

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Taken from Frey & Osborne’s Paper

From the image above you can see that the lower the required level of each skill (the closer to zero) the more likely that the activities for a career could be automated. Tasks a dishwasher, court clerk, and telemarketer can be automated today for tasks like washing dishing, maintaining records, and marketing over the phone can be done by machines. In fact, it can already be seen, ever get a phone call that turned out to be a recording that is automation at work! As well, the more a certain career needs one of the three skills to do daily activities the less likely it can be automated. That is why an event planner or fashion designer are less likely to be automated due to relying heavily on skills which technology is not able to do.

Who Is Impacted by Automation?

Now you are probably thinking, “is my career one that can be automated?” According to analysis done, fewer than 5% of jobs can be completely automated by technology; however, 60% of jobs can have 30% or more of their daily activities automated (3). What this suggests is that no real job would die off completely because of automation, but rather repetitive daily activities that can be automated will die off. Meaning that a job in the future job market that contains only repetitive activities will most likely be automated and not require humans. For computers and machines do not need to sleep or need a break, meaning even more efficiency of these activities. Likewise, a job that contains repetitive activities and also activities involving social intelligence, creativity, and perception and manipulation abilities are less likely to be taken over, resulting in a future job market where there is no repetitive daily activities needing to be done.

Thus, certain jobs are more likely than others to be safe and Frey and Osborne further looked to see which jobs are more likely to rely on automation and which would not. As can be seen from the below graph it shows which jobs have a low, medium, and high probability of automation. As can be seen jobs like transportation or production have a high probability of having automation. With the development of self-driving cars and assembly lines automation can be made easier for repetitive tasks. However, jobs like business, education and arts, and science have a low probability of having automation. For such repetitive tasks like analyzing, grading, reporting, etc. can be automated, but these repetitive tasks do not make up the whole job there are many other things that these jobs entail. There are many social intelligence and creative skills needed for these jobs which cannot be automated.

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Taken from Frey & Osborne’s Paper

Bringing It All in

What this all means is that the future job market would look like is less repetitive activities for work, which would be reduced by machine automation, and more activities for work that is more creative. For before and in the current market requires someone to focus on what makes money and what they are good at. However, with the automation of repetitive activities the focus will change, allowing more focus to be had on what we love to do and what we are good at doing. Since most of the daily repetitive work will be automated, careers in the future will allow us to be more creative and social in the work we do allowing for meaningful work rather than repetitive daily activities.

Thus, technology is not going to have such a negative aspect on the job market in terms of actually taking away jobs as people believe. Rather for someone looking for a career or changing careers in the future technology will allow us to focus on jobs that involve high levels of social intelligence and creativity. Allowing us to enjoy the work we do and take the daily repetitive activities one does not enjoy doing to be carried out by machines. As well, new jobs will be formed because of technology, jobs that do not even exist right now but will form will be because of the advancement of technology. Technology is a major factor in today’s world and will only become more part of everything including the job market.

Sources

(1) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/10-jobs-that-didn-t-exist-10-years-ago/

(2) https://80000hours.org/2015/02/which-careers-will-be-automated/

(3) http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/business-technology/our-insights/four-fundamentals-of-workplace-automation