How to Ensure You Have a Job in the Future

Everyone has heard that robots are the workers of the future. I have written about it several times. Many people fear the loss of their livelihoods and the prospect they may never work again. Some people see this as ‘doom and gloom” and project a dystopian future. Others, such as Thomas Frey, see future technologies producing jobs to replace those lost to technology advances. He believes, as The Business Insider said:

“Every great period of innovation has produced its share of labour-market doomsayers, but technological progress has never previously failed to generate new employment opportunities.”  

But the reality is that current jobs will be lost and will disappear as opportunities of employment.

What jobs?

As I said to a human resources group last week the types of jobs that will be lost to robots are the ones that can easily be automated. The Business Insider produced a list of jobs that will be likely to be replaced and others that will not be. Their list of jobs that will be likely to be replaced include telemarketers, accountants, auditors, retail sales persons, real estate sales people, typists and even airline pilots. The four jobs that were least likely to be replaced by robots were clergy, athletic trainers, dentists and recreational therapists. Bill Gates had a similar list that he feels will be replaced by “bots” which to him is software. Thomas Frey says that by 2030 two billion jobs will disappear. I told this HR group that the jobs that will be preserved are the ones that have the largest human component to them. Thus clergy and therapist positions will exist because they require a large dose of human in them.

Future skills

Thomas Frey has created a list of skills that take advantage of the “human” side of the equation. One of these is that of “ethicist”, similar to what I wrote in Future Friday: HR job titles of the future? In these positions there is too large of a human judgment component that needs to exist for this to be automated away, at least until we reach singularity.

Here are some of the other skills I found to be interesting in Frey’s list:

  1. Transitionists – Those who can help make a transition. Perhaps we can call this “hand-holding”?
  2. Contexualists – In between the application and the big picture lays the operational context for every new technology. Helping humans understand this will be a valuable skill.
  3. Philosophers – With companies in a constant battle over “my-brain-is-bigger-that-your-brain,” it becomes the overarching philosophy that wins the day. Programming is not to the point of producing another Aristotle or Kierkegaard.
  4. Theorists – Every new product, service, and industry begins with a theory. Computers develop ideas they don’t create them.

These are some of the skills that were interesting to me. You can find the entire list of skills HERE. Frey also includes a list of 162 jobs of the future.

What can you do?

Certainly one of the things you can do is look at this list and see what you can do to start moving in the direction of one of the jobs on the list. However, in your current job spend some time and review what you do. What could be automated? That will most likely go away, and sooner rather than later. What are the truly “human” components of your job? These will be more likely to be centered around human interaction. Transactions will disappear. So start planning now and you may prevent being a victim of “technological unemployment.”

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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