Technology is moving at an increasingly fast pace, with every facet of our lives now linked intrinsically to microchips in one way or another. While this might all be in the name of progress, it is also having a negative effect on many traditional careers, which are becoming more and more automated. As a result, it is important to avoid choosing an industry that is made up of disappearing jobs.
There are already warning signs. A recent study by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) found that nearly 60 per cent of young people in the country are currently training for careers that will be two-thirds automated in the next 10 to 15 years. That is a huge waste of skills.
Therefore, if you’re considering a career in one of the following fields, then maybe you should think again.
1. Travel Agents
There was once a time (in the UK at least) when booking your summer getaway to Malaga was a case of popping into Thomson’s on a Saturday afternoon, skimming through a few brochures and having a cheery sales rep called Michelle put the whole thing together on an oversized computer.
Now, with the abundance of easy-to-use comparison websites, anybody can arrange their own holiday. All you need is your bank card and a few spare hours to research your destination, with the likes of SkyScanner, Trivago and Opodo tailoring flight and hotel searches to your exact price and date range. Many travel operators have realised this, and are closing down branches to focus on their online offers.
There are still plenty of other opportunities in the wider travel industry though.
There has been increased talk in the last few years about the reality of a cashless society, with advances in contactless payments, Apple Pay and even cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin becoming prominent within mainstream society. While not everyone is on board, with some preferring to still use cash to better track their spending, one thing is for sure: the requirement for people to handle the payments is no more. With self-service tills and stations already a common site in supermarket chains and popular restaurants such as McDonald’s, the demise of the cashier seems inevitable.
Although there will always be books in the world – regardless of the success of e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle – it doesn’t look good for the librarians that catalogue them.
Many public libraries are struggling to stay open due to funding cuts, with most relying on volunteers to even stay open, while academic institutions have long since started uploading their texts to a digital format for convenience (and preservation) reasons. While this increased access to literature is a good thing, it is still a shame to see libraries and their helpful and knowledgeable custodians becoming obsolete.
4. Postal Couriers
While there will still be the need for couriers to deliver parcels, things don’t look good for the traditional postman or woman delivering letters each morning. This is mainly because the things that they deliver won’t exist in the next 20 years, with bills and statements viewed and paid online, junk mail moving to your email inbox rather than your letterbox, and the writing of letters long since a dying art. Despite this, companies still frustratingly ask you for a utility bill as proof of address, even though the likes of Sky and British Gas abandoned paper statements long ago.
5. Bank Tellers
While banks won’t disappear altogether; many local branches will and already have closed. This is due to the convenience and user-friendly nature of online and telephone banking, where you can make transactions and manage your account with ease – and all from the comfort of your own home, bus or anywhere.
People will still need to consult with financial advisors and experts, so banks will still remain open; there will just be a lot less of them.
6. Textile Workers
The dwindling number of employees in the textiles industry isn’t due to the lack of demand for products, but rather how they are made. With machines now able to perform a lot of the manufacturing and production work, there are less and less opportunities for unskilled workers.
On the upside, the move towards semi-automation means that highly-skilled specialist operators will be required, albeit in smaller numbers.
7. The Print Industry
This covers a range of jobs, from newspaper and magazine publishers to the factory workers that produce and distribute them. There has been speculation about the future of the print media industry for some time now, with various publications investing more time and content into their online versions; additionally, millennials are preferring to get their news from less biased, less mainstream sources, meaning that the industry as a whole needs to adapt and evolve or become extinct.
One thing is for sure though, the age of the print newspaper is coming to an end – why wait until tomorrow to read about the news when there is an absolute wealth of sources online that offers minute by minute coverage?
8. Sports Referees and Umpires
If you’ve ever fancied a career as a referee or an umpire, chances are your services won’t be required in the future. Soccer’s governing body FIFA is relenting to pressure to introduce more technology into the game, with goal-line technology now a standard and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system being utilized in top European leagues. This follows the example of other sports such as tennis, cricket and rugby, which have long since been using technology to make real-time decisions during a match.
While some feel that a move to artificial refereeing is a positive thing and reduces the scope for error, others argue that many sports rules are open to interpretation and that the possibility of human error increases the drama and spectacle of the match.
Although the idea of planes being flown by machines might put some off flying for life, it is actually very likely that you’ve already been onboard an auto-piloted flight. Modern commercial aircraft respond to flight plans, inputted by the pilot, which then calculate and implement the best way of getting there.
Indeed, according to aviation consultant Douglas M. Moss, Asian flight carriers forbid their pilots from landing the plane, insisting the process must be automated.
As the likes of Boeing continue to work on developing fully automated flight systems – as well as the developments in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the military – there seems there will be less need for someone to actually fly the plane. Flight crews have already been cut from 3 to 2; it is likely that by 2030 only one supervising officer will be required to man the cockpit.
10. Taxi / Uber Drivers
Driverless cars might once have been the domain of science fiction and James Bond movies, but with advances in technology, companies such as Waymo (Google’s sister company) are getting increasingly closer to bringing one to market. This doesn’t exactly bode well for those who make a living out of driving, such as taxi and Uber drivers.
It’s not all bad news though. Waymo CEO John Krafcik is yet to give a timeline for when these cars will be introduced, and journalists who were given a demonstration of the company’s progress recently have stated the technology is still in a primitive stage.
As more and more paper products become digital, and corporations and governments shift towards a greener and more sustainable environment, lumberjacks are increasingly becoming an endangered species. There is already massive amounts of research into the development of alternative eco-friendly building materials, as well as talk about the longer term future of human labour being replaced by more sophisticated and advanced technologies.
Most people (apart from telemarketers of course) will actually be pleased about this one, or at least they would be if the annoying unwanted sales calls weren’t being replaced with even more annoying automated sales calls. Many telemarketing companies (especially small ones, that don’t always play so closely to the rules) have adopted this new approach that negates hiring costs and can engage potential customers at any time of the day or night.
Unless you’re adamant that, at some point in your life, you were mis-sold PPI, it is unlikely that the demise of telemarketers will be mourned.
So What Should I Do Instead?
Although the prospects for these jobs might look grim, it’s not all bad news. A recent report by tech giant Dell claims that 85 per cent of the jobs that will be available in 2030 have not even been invented yet, with the technological landscape set to become unrecognisable over the next 13 years. Many of the jobs in this list will also become redefined as opposed to totally eradicated, with skills that can be transferable to other roles. Flexibility and a willingness to change career will be an important attribute in the future job market.
If you want to be totally bulletproof from the claws of progression though, author Martin Ford recommends pursuing a career in one of the 3 following groups:
Jobs that require genuine creativity, such as an artist, a scientist or a business strategist. By their definition, computers cannot and will never be able to replicate true human inspiration.
Relationship Based Jobs
These are roles that require the building and nurturing of complex relationships with other people, such as doctors and other medical professionals, or business professionals that might need to cultivate close relationships with clients.
These are jobs that are likely to throw up unpredictable scenarios, such as those faced by the emergency services, or trades that could be called out to emergencies in random locations such as plumbers or gas engineers.
So there you have it. Do you work in any of these fields? Or do you know of any other jobs that might not exist in the future? Share them in the comments below…