Let’s not mince words — the loss of jobs to automation is a very real problem, increasingly affecting much of the Western world. While President Trump might be out there bellowing about creating manufacturing jobs in America’s rust belt, the fact of the matter is these jobs are long gone, and not coming back. Not when profit-making businesses have figured out a more cost-effective way to produce goods — one that does not involve human labour.
A new report by the job search site Indeed.com has curated job availability across all sectors in Canada in an attempt to identify what industries are most and least prone to automation.
The results are interesting, though not altogether surprising.
Jobs that are not susceptible to automation tend to be focused in the science and tech field — data scientists, healthcare professionals and cyber-security experts. For those of you in jobs that are repetitive and methodical by nature (think administrative roles), the machines are coming for you.
“Jobs that had a very large non-routine component to them tended to be least susceptible to automation,” Indeed.com economist Daniel Culbertson told VICE Money. “The most promising careers for the future will be those that complement the work of machines, or which rely heavily on “human” qualities that cannot be replicated by a computer.”
Data scientists, healthcare professionals, and cyber-security experts
The report found that from 2016 to 2017, the number of data scientist job postings in Canada increased by 75 percent. That’s a massive bump, but one that can be explained. The catchment of data sheerly from most people being online at least 12 hours a day has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. That data requires processing — the know-how to analyze patterns and trends in different pieces of data cannot be replicated by a robot.
Job postings for cybersecurity experts also increased drastically (73 percent) between 2016 and 2017. “As cyber-attacks increase in scale and sophistication, employers in Canada are racing to recruit the right staff to protect their business, fueling demand for cybersecurity professionals,” said Culbertson.
The third category of people who should not ever worry about getting replaced by robots are healthcare professionals. Doctors, dentists and nurses deal with different patients everyday. Individual treatment requires some degree of discretion and creativity — both are qualities that are impossible for machines to replicate. Moreover, Canada has an aging population, meaning that demand for healthcare workers will continue to rise over the coming decades.
What if you’re an arts grad?
There’s good news for arts graduates too. If you’re in the field of marketing, communications, design and human resources, you probably won’t have to worry about losing out to robots any time soon.
“Creative professions which focus on the complex interplay of ideas, words and images with shared cultural and social values are highly likely to survive the threat of automation. Social intelligence and new media literacy are key skills to be cultivated,” advises Culbertson.
One interesting statistic that Culbertson discovered — the share of chef postings on Indeed.com climbed by 11 percent between 2016 and 2017. Turns out, at least in Canada, people seem to be losing interest in generic, processed food, opting instead for creatively cooked meals outside.
The gig economy
Worth pointing out as well is the number of jobs that have been created in the so-called “gig economy”, as a result of automation. A 2016 report from the human resources consulting firm Randstad indicated that independent contractors, remote workers and on-demand workers make up between 20-30 percent of the Canadian workplace.
Culbertson argues that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, claiming that global interest in flexible work arrangements increased by 36 percent between 2013 and 2015. So it’s not just that we’re losing full-time jobs to automation — we’re apparently choosing to opt for part-time work for the sake of flexibility.
A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study contradicts Culbertson’s claim. Their data reveals that 55 percent of Canadian workers participate in the gig economy because “it’s the only way to make a living right now.” 71 percent of gig economy workers are under the age of 40.