Here are some thoughts about the future of work from Artur Meyster, CTO of Career Karma, an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.
In the past, humans hunted, farmed, and built a shelter to survive. However, humans can be complacent by nature, and our kind looks for ways to ease efforts and make survival easier.
Several decades ago we started building machines able to efficiently accomplish job tasks such as automobile and smartphone assembly. Some people may not want to admit it, but the future of work will involve automation with little human intervention. What is more beneficial for a company: a human that needs to eat and sleep or a robot that does not need a salary or vacation?
One factor that accelerates the shift to automation is the affordability and accessibility of machines. When computers first became utilized in the 1970s, they were not available to everyone – you could only dream of having one. But with the evolution of computers and sophisticated software development, the machines are everywhere today, just look at how smartphones have become a part of daily life.
The automation revolution is happening now and it has been growing without many people noticing. The substitution of humans with machines has many workers worried about employability in the future. Is your job safe from being replaced by robots? Let us find out.
Manual labor automation
The most vulnerable jobs are the ones that require manual labor like those in the manufacturing and logistic industries. Pretty much every job that involves a repeatable and replicable task is being replaced by automation.
There are millions of self-service cashiers where you select desired items, have them scanned and pay. Another industry embracing automation is customer service. Digitized customer service operations are able to respond to every call and requests from thousands of users.
The barista, a position traditionally manned by a person, can now be replaced by a robot. A company called Briggo created an automated network of machines that make coffee faster and just the way you like it. Briggo remembers your coffee preferences and can consistently replicate them using machine learning.
Jobs to vanish overnight
Transportation jobs are likely to disappear in the future as automated cars have been rolled out over the past few years. Knowing this gives us an idea of how unnecessary the job of a driver will be in the future. The same goes for aircraft pilots, textile workers, and printers.
If you think about it, this current situation with the pandemic has given us a glimpse at how the future of employment will be: most of the companies still floating are in the tech and healthcare industries.
Jobs that will thrive
Now that we know that most tasks will be automated, we need to think about the people who will program machines. Computers work like the human brain; they learn and repeat. So to be functional, these automated tools will need machine learning or artificial intelligence engineers and other occupations involved in the development of an automated tool.
Despite machines becoming more sophisticated, machines have not emulated particular characteristics of the human brain: empathy and sympathy, two soft skills crucial for the future of our kind. Based on this argument, most experts say some jobs that require human analysis, empathy, and sensitivity will still work in the future. So professions in teaching, nursing, and psychology will be part of our future.
The future of our employment
The best thing we can do is to stay ahead is learn in-demand skills. We need to become a part of the future’s necessary workforce. To become so, we need to learn the skills that will be required for the next version of the economy.
We need to learn tech skills like coding, programming, or robotics. Luckily, there are schools and institutions currently teaching these skills. Schools like Flatiron School or Thinkful currently teach the most in-demand tech skills like coding and machine learning.
Robots are not the future, they have already arrived, and will become more sophisticated with time. The question is not whether robots will change the future of work, but when.
We do not want our profession to be removed from future employment needs, but the automation is inevitable, judging from current trends. There surely will be some industries that will no longer need human intervention such as logistics, manufacturing, or transportation, but you can still migrate from your old profession into the digital arena.