Workers being replaced by robots

Study: Nearly 50% of jobs at risk of robot takeover

Nicole Wray|

Hard on the heels of our recent Thinkopolis research report predicting 10 jobs that won’t exist in 10 years, more news is coming out about the rise of robots replacing human workers.

They can clean your floors, park your car and win Jeopardy. Amazon.com says that unmanned drones will soon deliver packages to your door. Soon, robots might be able to do more and more jobs better than we can.

A recent study found that about 47% of North American employment is at a high risk of computerization. A “high risk job” refers to one that could be automated “over the next decade or two.” The study estimated the probability of computerization for 702 common jobs.

Middle-class jobs most likely to be eliminated

According to The Associated Press, who analyzed employment data and the threat of computerization in over 20 countries, nearly all jobs disappearing due to technology pay between $38,000 to $68,000.

Insurance underwriters, data entry keyers, telemarketers and library technicians are among the jobs most likely to be eliminated by computerization. Other common mid-level jobs with a very high probability of computerization include tellers, legal secretaries, insurance claims clerks, cashiers and real estate brokers.

Social skills, creative intelligence irreplaceable

Jobs that are unlikely to be filled by robots any time soon include recreational therapists, occupational therapists, physicians, surgeons, mental health counselors, human resource managers and computer systems analysts.

“Most management, business, and finance occupations, which are intensive in generalist tasks requiring social intelligence, are largely confined to the low risk category. The same is true of most occupations in education, healthcare, as well as arts and media jobs,” the study found. You can see where your job ranks on the full list here (see page 57).

The future of work

Though nearly 50% of jobs can be automated in the near future, this study does not analyze whether or not they actually will be. The study doesn’t take into account regulatory bodies (like government) that come into play when talking about the threat of computers taking over human’s jobs.

It’s also important to remember that many job-creating technologies, the Internet or smartphones for example, were unimaginable as little as 50 years ago. Today, millions are employed in Internet-dependent jobs. New technology can replace certain jobs, but it also creates new ones. Plus, we’ll always need someone to call when (not if) the computer isn’t working.

See more on labour market trends and the future of work at workopolis.com/research.


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