The onward march of technology has long been a double-edged sword in terms of its effect on employment.
On the one hand, technological advancement has created entirely new industries and led to increased efficiency, rapid production, and streamlining of the workplace in general.
On the other hand, automation has made a lot of formerly essential jobs obsolete, and those job losses will only become more widespread as the fields of AI and robotics continue to break new ground.
It's easy to see why so many people are looking for new lines of work that simply could not exist without human workers. So which jobs are safe from automation? And which are most at risk?
Jobs most at risk from automation
A 2017 report by consultancy firm McKinsey Global Institute projected that up to 800 million workers across the globe will lose their jobs to robots by 2030, noting that machine operators and food workers are likely to take the brunt of the hit.
While that may be a shocking statistic, technology reshaping the workplace is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a vital part of our evolution as a species - as time goes by, old jobs become redundant and new jobs become available that would have been inconceivable a few decades prior. The matchstick makers and lamplighters of yore couldn't possibly have imagined that their descendants would be designing websites, testing video games, and developing machine-learning algorithms for search engines.
Over the last half-century, however, jobs have been erased by technological advancement at an alarmingly fast pace. From switchboard operators to railway ticket sellers and the litany of factory jobs in between, it seems that no line of work is completely without risk of automation - even McDonald’s is creeping closer to fully-automated ordering with the growing influx of self-service machines.
But let’s not throw in the towel just yet. There are still plenty of vocations left that require a human touch!
What jobs are safe from automation?
According to BusinessInsider.com, the top 10 jobs least likely to become automated are almost exclusively health and social care role, with occupational therapists topping the list. Social workers are not far behind, closely followed by dentists, physicians, surgeons and nutritionists.
Outside of healthcare, creative jobs like choreography and exhibit designers also rank highly on the list. Creeping into the wider top 20, counselling and psychology roles rank well, as does teaching, while medical health and medical science are also fairly safe from the creeping threat of automation.
Industries likeliest to remain safe from automation
An Oxford University study titled The Future of Employment provides a great deal of insight into what human employment will look like in the future and, more importantly, the areas where human brains are most crucial.
Overall, healthcare and social sciences are the industries least likely to be automated in the foreseeable future. The human aspects of therapy and social care make these sectors relatively inaccessible for artificial intelligences. Boasting seven of the top ten jobs in the list, it seems that a career in healthcare is a fairly safe bet that shouldn’t see too much change in the foreseeable future.
Similarly, the emotional connection that's needed in the education sector also seems likely to ensure a steady future for teachers. Art & Design, Sport & Entertainment and Media are three other avenues that require individualistic input that is hard to replace with technology.
Skills needed for the jobs of the future
So what skills are most likely to secure steady employment in the future? Many industry experts point to three notable attributes:
- Creativity - The expressive nature of creative jobs is not something that can be digitally automated, making proficiency in this a true asset that’s virtually future-proof.
- Emotional intelligence - Empathy and emotional understanding are human characteristics that are notably absent in machines, safeguarding roles where human interaction is paramount. This is a big part of why healthcare professionals and social workers are unlikely to be replace by robots any time soon.
- STEM proficiency - STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These complex - and crucial - fields are relatively safe from automation, so a science or engineering degree should stand you in good stead for the future.
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FURTHER READING: Will Data Science Jobs Be Automated?