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What jobs are safe from automation?

The path to automation requires robots to collaborate with humans, rather than just replace them entirely. Most jobs will still require human intervention to some degree.

The risk of job automation is higher in predictable, manual and repetitive work environments and in industries with more stringent regulations.

Automation risk is lower in unstructured, dynamic and unpredictable work environments and in industries that involve high regulatory scrutiny.

US investment bank Goldman Sachs, for example, employed more than 600 stock traders at its peak. Thanks to machine learning algorithms capable of complex transactions, these 600 traders have been reduced to just two. Instead, about a third of its workforce is now employed as computer engineers.

Amazon, for example, is using 45,000 robots in its warehouses. But at the same time, it is creating thousands of new jobs for humans in its logistics centers.

We know that robots are not good at grasping, picking up, and manipulating items in unstructured environments.

The risk of job automation is higher in predictable work environments and in industries with more stringent regulations. This includes jobs or tasks that are manual and repetitive.

This has happened to manufacturing. It is now affecting more than 10.5 million restaurant, cleaning and warehouse jobs.

In the hospitality industry, the ease of automation is high for repetitive and manual tasks such as preparing coffee or preparing specific dishes. This is particularly true in environments with highly structured processes and menus.

Many startups are working on digital payment and table ordering software to replace the tasks of cashiers and servers.

Automation and experience augmentation (EaaS) software is rapidly replacing entry-level white-collar jobs in areas such as law (eg, automated document analysis and auditing), media (eg, selection of AI-based news and summaries) and even software development.

The good news is that the risk of automation is lower in unstructured or unpredictable work environments. This includes industries that involve high regulatory scrutiny.

In healthcare, dynamic decision-making in unpredictable work environments makes these patient-facing jobs difficult to automate, especially when a high degree of emotional intelligence is required.

Although road transport is at high risk of automation, this is unlikely to happen widely in the next decade due to regulatory challenges. While the technology has the potential to reduce manual work, it faces regulatory challenges as it still requires a human driver for off-road driving.

The construction industry, for example, is unstructured and dynamic. Requires human supervision.

Retraining and reskilling employees will be a recurring theme in the future of work. Future-ready jobs will require constant skill updating, new learning, and gaining up-to-date skills and experience so that we can always be future-proof and job-ready and safe from automation.

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