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How to Embrace the Automation Wave to Find a Secure Job in the Future

April 22, 2019
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Time pressure

Horizontal color image of businesswoman - unrecognizable person - working with digital tablet in large futuristic factory. Woman standing on top of a balcony, holding touchpad and checking inventory of a manufacturing company on touchscreen tablet. Focus on businesswoman's hands holding black tablet, futuristic machines in background.

What was once just a warning from futurists is now happening across the country: Automation is taking over jobs.

Manufacturing is the industry where automation is most significantly changing work processes, but it’s not stopping there. Automation is expanding beyond the warehouse to white-collar jobs that are labor intensive or have a significant amount of predictable work, such as data processing.

McKinsey notes nearly half (49 percent) of worker activities could be done by some type of machine or artificial-intelligence software. Company leaders are taking note. About 58 percent of CEOs plan to cut jobs over the next five years because of robotics.

But the news is not all dire for the American worker. That same survey found that 16 percent of CEOs say they plan to hire more people because of robotics.

Industry evolution is nothing new. Automation simply plays a significant role in that evolution. Perhaps rather than viewing the robots as an evil way for businesses to streamline processes, cut jobs, and make money, we should focus on how it can really impact the economy and improve job functionality.

Think about what parts of your job might be automated. It’s probably some of the more tedious tasks. If a robot came in and did those tasks for you, you’d have so much more time to focus on more productive and innovative activities.

What’s more, there still needs to be a human behind any automation implementation. Someone needs to run the software or machine, and monitor it to ensure quality control and correct outcome. The right automation tools can make you feel like a superhuman worker. Suddenly productivity soars because you’re firing on all cylinders.

To get the most out of the growing automation trend, you really need to embrace change. The old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them” has never been more true. Automation technology professions are growing. If you can learn skills in programming, maintaining, or fixing robots or automated software, you’re probably going to be in high demand.

If you’re already in a profession and you hear murmurs of automation, be an active part of the conversation. Ask questions and show your interest. You have the ability to lend valuable insight on where automation makes sense and where it doesn’t. Plus, you position yourself as a thought leader, which could help you advance your career because you’re looking toward the future, rather than clinging to the past.

For career changers or those just entering college, the key to avoiding automation job elimination is to select a career with little predictable work. If it’s unpredictable, it requires a human touch. Machines need predictability to work well.

A McKinsey study found more than 70 professions in which no more than 10 percent of activities could be automated based on current technology. These include jobs such as special education teacher, tree trimmer, multimedia artist and animator, psychiatrist, occupational health specialist, and clergy.

The bots have arrived and they’ll continue to come. Are you ready for the future?

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