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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  • Khan

    Now , nobody cares how smart are you in your skills and abilities computer takes over all sort of skills, with zero pay.
    but one field computer never take place it would be Business studies, and marketing, medical,engineers, and lot more, (but not for middle class) they cant pay high fees for their children with minimum pay salary. (before Hitler was bad man…. and now computer took over his place)

  • Ravana Hamzayeva

    Not possible. How can robot can be teacher or researcher? How robot can be caregiver or nurse? Robot can do only task within certain interval.

    • Cheryl Gaver

      Simple – devalue research unless it increases business; devalue teaching by insisting the goal of learning is to pass exams and get a job;

  • James Earl

    there was a ‘stuDY’
    Pronounce study like a 13 year old girl, with intonation on last syllable, as if you were asking a question.

    What-ever

  • Belisarius

    Technology is already destroying more jobs than it is creating (it used to do the opposite), and this trend is showing signs of accelerating. We’re going to have to adjust as a society to this new reality – either by distributing the workload more sparingly (through shorter work weeks, more vacation time, earlier retirements, staying in school longer, etc.) or by allowing the dispossessed to pile up in the streets.

    Under the former approach, we’ll finally get that increased leisure time we were promised, and could actually develop more completely as human beings – attending to our relationships and hobbies more extensively than is possible now.

    Under the latter approach, our existence will perpetually hang by a thread. People will be more dependent upon and subservient to the asset class, and will tolerate increasingly meager wages and unpleasant/unsafe working conditions.

    Given that the asset class basically own the government, I guess we’re taking the latter approach.

  • Matt

    May I point out that someone has to build those robots, program them, reprogram them, recycle their parts after, create manuals, distribute software, provide tech support, handle sales, supervise transitions, research new robots, create colourful marketing material, etc… The list goes on and on!