Robots. They`re efficient, they don`t call in sick or go on strike, and they`re transforming the workplace. Vee Cooper has more.
According to a new report – nearly 42 percent of the Canadian labour force could be replaced by automation over the next two decades.
What does that mean for your job?
Driving a transport truck. According to a new BC Labour Market report, that job is at high risk for automation.
“We have more need to have things delivered to our home and work than ever before” explains Labour Market consultant Christian Saint Cyr “so it’s not like there’s a shortage of having things delivered,
“I think the automated technology’s gotten to the point where you have google who’s driven hundreds of millions of miles with only one accident.”
According to the report, the top five occupations at highest risk for automation in the next two decades are: retail sales — administrative assistants — counter and kitchen staff in the food industry — cashiers and transport truck drivers.
Uvic professor Fayez Gebali says this is just evolution.
“This is normal progress of technology.
“In the 18th Century when the looms and textile industry started automating… And in the ’60’s when Detroit went to automated manufacturing, and robotics took over cars…the natural reaction is, ‘We are taking away jobs from humans!’..but we cannot fight progress.”
Cyr explains that “you have to look at your occupation and see where the human factor comes in.”
So what about an accountant – tracking numbers – will that job exist in the future?
“What people are really going to their accountant for is that expertise” says Cyr.
“So I think an occupation that’s at much greater risk of automation are things like bookkeeping and payroll administration, where you’re really doing a function that technology can do much better.”
Jobs that are safer in the future? Cyr says those will be jobs that make us uniquely human.
“The ability to create, and empathize, and write, and compose, and persuade people, and those are things that technology doesn’t do well.”
Rick Cotton, from UVic’s Gustavson School of Business adds “If companies look at it the right way, it actually can open up their ability to really focus on new markets, new customers, new areas of their business, and redeploy that existing work force…
“But that said, more jobs, sort of lower level jobs are more focused on possibly being outsorced. For those jobs, I would say the employee really has to think of their own employability.”
Click here to see the report.