Can You Robot-Proof Your Career?

By Brian Wallace

December 27, 2018   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Welcome to an automated future. Just this year, Amazon opened a totally cashier-less grocery store, the first of its kind. While Amazon certainly has no lack for employee talent with over 500,000 employees on the payroll, Amazon Go is a working experiment on the impact of automation on employment.

Automation Is The Future

can retailers survive millennial apocalypse

Amazon’s grocery store gives us a glimpse into the future in which we see unmatched productivity and profit. Generally speaking, the more routine or predictable a job is, the higher the likelihood it has for robotic replacement. Nearly 50% of employers think that automation in their respective industries could cause a huge reduction of the human workforce by just 2020.

By 2030, the following industries and positions could see total automation:

  • 4.6 million retail workers
  • 4.3 million servers and cooks
  • 3.8 million housekeepers and janitorial workers
  • 2.4 million warehouse workers, laborers, and movers

Are Employees At Risk From Automation?

Thriving under conditions of predictable behaviors and physical movement, it’s the commonplace jobs that are most at risk. Workers whose jobs could be completely replaced within just a decade or two include positions from retail to housekeeping and even office jobs.

Nearly 20% of what we do during our day could become obsolete, thanks to automation. So, how do we make sure our responsibilities are robot-proof?

While 37% of people are worried about automation putting their jobs at risk, 73% also say that technology can never replace the human mind. What makes automation truly powerful is when it gives us humans the chance to free up our creative energies from predictable yet time-consuming tasks.

What results is disagreeing experts on the true impact of automation on employment. One study has shown that less than 5% of occupations can become fully automated. It is instead the restructuring of jobs, responsibilities, and tasks that’s the likely outcome of automation, rather than full submission to robot workers.

Work with the lowest potential for automation include:

  • In-person customer service positions
  • Planning and creative work
  • Management positions and development roles

How Can You Prevent Automation From Taking Over Your Career?

Today, robots are unable to replicate human emotions, creativity, and experiences, which is a good thing. When we can rely on automation to manage mundane work, we can focus our energies away from time-consuming tasks. We can do the work that really influences growth and change.

In business, soft skills show up in:

  • Emotional intelligence – empathy, curiosity, nurturing
  • Creativity – unique problem solving skills, attention to detail, artistic thought
  • Leadership – motivating others, guidance, and emotional understanding

Going forward, honing these soft skills will be more important than ever as they make us an asset. This competitive edge in the face of automation can not only help save our jobs, but help us move on up to more meaningful and impactful work. Thanks to a reliance on skills like these, the prospect of automation in select industries remains low and with very little prospect of growth.

  • Medical field work – physicians and surgeons show .4% potential for automation and dentists and occupational therapists at .3%
  • Education – special-ed teachers and middle school teacher show 1.6% potential for automation, preschool teachers show .7%, and elementary school teachers just .4%.
  • Technology field work – software developers have 4.2% potential of automation, mechanical engineers at 1.1%
  • Computer systems analysts .6%.

Though not all of us work in the medical or technology fields, we can learn lessons from then on what makes them so irreplaceable. Technical know-how aside, it’s the human touch that makes these human positions indispensable. We can apply that very same principle to our own work, whatever that may be.

Consider bolstering your own position at work now to prepare for the future

35% of Americans have changed jobs in the last three years and 14% of workers worldwide need to be retrained. Don’t be afraid to pivot careers if necessary. Many employers offer educational tools and courses from Microsoft Word primers all the way to blockchain crash courses. No matter where you are in your career, it never hurts to work on your knowledge.

The future may be robotic, but human skills will become a powerful asset. Ready to robot-proof your career? Start from within by developing your soft skills detailed in this infographic below.
How to Robot-Proof Your Career
Source: Online Bachelor Degrees

Brian Wallace

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast. Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.

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