Future Proof: How to Protect Yourself from Job Automation

Experts are torn on the idea of automation in the workplace. Some see it as a fantastic way to improve productivity that could allow us to eventually move to the utopian-sounding ‘jobless society’. But for others, the influx of artificial intelligence and robots taking human jobs is a nightmare scenario that will leave millions unemployed, with no prospect of finding work again.

Commentators are even divided on which section of the workforce will suffer the most. The obvious analysis is that low-paid, low-skilled workers are the ones most likely to have their jobs taken by machines, but another take is that managers and those in high paid roles will take the worst of the losses.

Whoever you believe, the truth is that we can’t know for sure exactly who is going to really suffer from the increased role of robots in the workplace. So all you can do is to attempt to future proof yourself against the risk. Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Which jobs are most likely to be automated?

It’s important to know which jobs are most likely to be automated. According to research published in the Sunday Times, the jobs that are most at risk include insurance underwriters, loan officers, credit analysts, postal service clerks and real estate brokers. You’ll notice that some of these are skilled jobs that require significant training. However, the key issue is that these jobs require the kind of skills that computers are very good at – interpreting numbers or the application of algorithms.

It’s naturally going to be things that robots can do better than humans where we are most likely to see job losses. So the first step on the road to future proofing yourself is to equip yourself with skills that only humans have – more on that in a bit.

Embrace the change

It’s important to recognise that while many of us may not be enamoured with the idea of automation, it’s vital that we should embrace this change. As the UK’s economy developed away from traditional manufacturing there were many who were unable or unwilling to embrace that change, and those were the ones who found it most difficult to cope when jobs were lost.

Ultimately, it is unlikely to be your choice if your job is going to be automated. The only thing that you can do is understand the dangers posed to your profession and find ways to get around the problem. There are a few different ways that you can do this, but one of the first is to think about productivity.

Value productivity

Companies offering software like Planday are making it easier for companies to become more efficient, but as a whole the UK is struggling with productivity. Many reports have shown that the UK is severely lagging behind other advanced economies in terms of productivity since the financial crisis. There are many theories as to why this is the case, but one thing that it does show is that there are improvements that we can make.

It’s often the case that companies can be far more productive if they invest in providing extra training for staff, modern equipment, and quality business software tools. If you are in a position to bring forward these sorts of changes in working practice, it can do wonders for your company’s productivity levels.

But productivity can’t solve everything, and at some point you need to consider ways that you personally can improve your job prospects.

What skills do you need?

As we talked about before, there are certain things that machines do far better than humans. However, there are other areas of skill that computers find it much harder to replicate. Firstly, clearly it’s important to have humans who support, oversee and fix the machine technologies. All computers and mechanised machines require supervision, so if you can develop the skills required for this you will be able to move with the times.

Additionally computers and machines are currently unable to reproduce ideas like creativity or empathy, which are things that come naturally to most humans. These are areas where computers won’t be able to match humans, and as such are the most likely skills that will still be required.

Prepare for jobs that don’t currently exist

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that there are many jobs today that did not exist 20 years ago. SEO specialists, app developers and e-commerce executives simply were not possible jobs until technology moved on. That means that in another 20 years’ time there are likely to be many different roles. Preparing for them means being able to adapt and change when it is necessary.

For info on a related topic, read our article on the top 10 highest paying jobs based on annual gross income.

Category: B2B News

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