As the world hurtles into a future driven by rapid technological advancements and shifting economic landscapes, the workplace is undergoing a profound transformation.
Seasoned employees and fresh entry-level workers find themselves facing an array of new challenges and opportunities. To navigate the evolving landscape successfully, it is crucial for individuals to remain informed and adapt to emerging trends.
My last two columns were focused on changes for employers into the future. As a follow-up, my next two columns are dedicated to the employee’s perspective for what lies ahead.
Let’s start with the most obvious concern for future jobs: Artificial Intelligence.
What does AI mean for jobs, now and into the future? Artificial Intelligence, automation, machine learning and robotics are reshaping industries, rendering some jobs obsolete while creating new ones. To stay relevant, employees must embrace lifelong learning and proactively upskill themselves to harness the power of emerging technologies. Adapting to technology-driven changes can unlock new avenues for professional growth and enhance employability.
1. Customer service reps:
Answering common customer queries repetitively. Only questions that require high emotional or social intelligence will be handled by a human.
Remember when every company had a receptionist or when a human would answer your initial call? Automated systems have replaced many receptionists. AI will replace even more.
Humans will still be involved in training AI and conducting higher levels of analysis, but the rote work – data entry, copying and pasting, sorting and reordering – will be eliminated.
4. Salespeople for advertising and retail activities:
Advertising has moved to social media and digital platforms where AI can recommend the most efficient programs. In retail, consumers are researching products in advance (or in store) with mobile devices, diminishing the need for salespeople. And e-commerce continues to eat into retail sales.
5. Taxi and truck drivers:
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the taxi business. They are now focusing on autonomous driving, or cars driven by advanced sensors and computers. It is inevitable that taxis and buses will all be self-driven and fully autonomous. Every year, new AI features are being added to new models of cars. According to a report by the LA Times, almost 1.7 million American truck drivers will be replaced by autonomous driving systems in the next 10 years.
6. Retail services:
At an Amazon GO store, you walk in, choose your items and walk out while your Amazon account is being charged. Cashiers will be obsolete. Plus robots and devices that handle and restock goods and even answer questions are the way of the future and a solution to the persistent retail worker shortage.
7. Proofreaders and translators:
Think of tools such as Grammarly, DeepL and Google Translate. Along with ChatGPT of course.
8. Security and military personnel:
Technology is changing how wars are fought and how security will look in the future. Reducing the risk to human life from security posts to the battlefield makes AI and robotics the focus in these roles.
9. Surgical assistants:
Considering that robotic doctors are perfectly capable of performing critical operations, they are expected to take over the surgical assistant role entirely — and greatly reduce the potential for human error.
10. Courier and delivery services:
Multinational corporations such as Wal-Mart and Amazon are already working on replacing delivery people with robots and drones. Although drone delivery is being implemented gradually, it will surely take over courier services in the future. Artificial intelligence is helping these companies streamline various supply chain and logistics functions.
In addition, the professional jobs that they feel cannot be easily replaced due to the requirements for emotional and social intelligence include:
3. Graphic designers
5. Computer sciences and software developers
6. PR managers
7. Event planners
8. Marketing managers
10. Writers and authors
Of course, there are many, many professions not listed above that would fall between high risk and low risk. The key takeaway: AI will present some risk for nearly all professions. Lifelong learning and upskilling will be essential everywhere.
The fear of what the future brings with AI is a legitimate concern. However, with the possibility for new, high-paying jobs replacing repetitive lower-level jobs — as well as the potential for improved business outcomes and efficiency — we can hope for positive change when it comes to employment opportunities.
Stay tuned for part two next month.
Tina Hamilton is president and CEO of myHR Partner Inc., (myhrpartnerinc.com) a Lehigh Valley human resources outsourcing firm that manages HR for clients in 40 states. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Allentown Morning Call on July 1, 2023