There is a lot of banter, which is backed up by well-research papers on how Automation and Robotics (powered by machine-learning systems) will replace jobs in the manufacturing and labour-intensive industries. Blue-collar jobs are not the only ones however, that face imminent and progressive extinction.
A recently survey report conducted by the World Economic Forum predicts futuristic trends affecting certain jobs in the modern workplace. Robert Solow predicted decades ago, in his Solow-Swan model, a massive driving force of global growth; technology. And the evidence is prevelant with the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon championing stock markets with Billion-dollar market capitalizations and in the processs creating an abundance of jobs globally.
Disruptive technological advances such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), the ubiquitous high-speed mobile Internet (5G); widespread adoption of big data analytics; cloud technology, and the recent Blockchain technology will be the drivers of this job evolution. Based on the report, by 2022, this job evolution will be firmly in place as it has already. In a matter of just 4 years, we could have a situation where jobs such as postal service clerks, data entry clerks, and bean-counters (accountants and auditors) would be made redundant.
Software like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, was introduced with the aim to remove ‘silos’ within customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes. The latter takes over (fully automates) back-office operations such as stock-taking and supply chain management. Such tasks will be performed via software, reducing the need for more human supervision. Consequently, the focus would be more on managerial roles.
In the sales and customer service realm, technologies like Microsoft’s AI will provide automated insights to guide employees on improving customer experiences. Furthermore, it may lower support costs by using virtual agents or Chatbots as they are known; eliminating in-house AI experts and those writing code, resulting in more redundancies!
On a positive note, newer and more exciting jobs such as data analysts, machine learning and AI specialists, digital transformation experts and in general information system services will be on the rise – up to 135 million globally, according to the Report. The fields to benefit directly from new technologies would be Information Technology, Information Security, Innovation (including research and tech and manufacturing), Customer Services and Risk Management (financial services).
Another group of professionals whose nature of work will be affected due to the advent of ‘disruptive technology‘ are financial middlemen. Likewise, smaller banks and money transfer institutions. Decentralised systems were primarily put in place to eradicate extra fees associated with transferring money across borders/cities and from one account to another. Fees increase due to such intermediaries (financial middlemen).
Cutting them out completely undoubtedly renders them redundant. It is therefore pertinent to innovate their products in order to open up sufficient job position; alternatively, seek revenue streams to keep employees on the payroll.
Recently, Malta’s finance minister whilst in a private interview during a Blockchain Conference, echoed this by saying that the advent of cryptocurrency that is usable by the mass public was turning the financial middlemen into traditional “photo developers”.
“I can see this, just like in photography when you could tell that […] those who process the photos will lose their jobs; a lot of financial intermediaries will be facing the chop in the not too distant future,” says Edward Scicluna.
The good news for governments will be that the trend shows that the jobs created will surpass those lost. The key would, however, be to ensure that those losing their jobs are captured back in the employment pool and not just rendered redundant.