Stay Relevant in a World at Risk of Automation
Experts and normal people alike worry that automated systems will soon replace many jobs that human workers do now. Driverless cars, warehouse drones that fulfill internet orders recorded by equally automated digital systems, and algorithm-based applicant tracking systems that independently analyze and select resumes for hiring managers all loom large in our immediate future – or perhaps they already affect our present.
The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2015 which suggested that “65% of Americans expect that within 50 years robots and computers will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ do much of the work currently done by humans.”
So, what can a savvy job-hunter do to stay relevant in a world at risk of automation?
Here are four tips from internet-era experts:
A 2016 MarketWatch article suggests that a college education will help workers who want to avoid being replaced by robots. This article cites data from the 2016 economic report of the president: “There’s an 83% chance that automation will take a job with an hourly wage below $20, a 31% chance automation will take a job with an hourly wage between $20 and $40, and just a 4% chance automation will take a job with an hourly wage above $40.” Marketwatch concludes that these findings continue to “demonstrate the need for training and education….”
Because more advanced education typically renders stronger networks and higher pay, staying in school may help prepare workers for jobs that will not immediately become automated.
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates both recently talked publicly about the importance of empathy and human connection. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, addressed Harvard’s 2017 graduating class by emphasizing individual purpose in today’s digital society. “… you are graduating into a world that needs purpose. It’s up to you to create it. … Taking on big meaningful projects is the first thing we can do to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”
Gates, in an interview with Quartz, asserts that automation will provide “this opportunity to make all the goods and services we have today, and free up labor, let us do a better job of reaching out to the elderly, having smaller class sizes, helping kids with special needs. You know, all of those are things where human empathy and understanding are still very, very unique. And we still deal with an immense shortage of people to help out there.”
John Hagel, writing for Wired Magazine in 2013, claims, “the world demands creativity. We need creativity at the company level to respond effectively to increasing competition and uncertainty. We also need creativity at the worker level to find jobs that will be augmented, rather than replaced, by machines.”
Another recent MarketWatch article supports this need. “… [There] are some “robot-proof” careers, at least for now. They include composers and artists…” among other creative and human-centric professions. Even the tongue-in-cheek website WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com suggests that the likelihood of automation in artistic careers is low, with fine artists having a very low risk (4.2%) of robot takeover and performing artists like dancers coming in at a still-safe 12%.
Forbes writer John Koetsier lists thirteen areas to study that will remain automation-free for the foreseeable future. Each item on his list deals with the building, maintenance, or operation of, unsurprisingly, robots!
He notes that embracing the influx of innovation is the key: “[find] an area in which you can apply human creativity and intellect in a unique and novel way.” His advice aligns with many others who suggest that pursuing careers that support our increasingly automated society will inherently self-protect the employee’s highly skilled positions.