man sketching on a notepad
PHOTO: JJ Ying

As developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation push forward, more and more businesses are turning to its capabilities to speed business processes and increase efficiencies. Shown to increase productivity by making business processes up to 10 times faster and slated to add $15.7 trillion into the global economy by 2030, automation today gives us a glimpse into a potential future. 

While almost half of employers say automation could lead to a drastic reduction in their workforce, smart business leaders know that not every position can become automated. AI and automation don’t have to lead to mass unemployment if employers help the workforce retool their skills sets with an eye on automation.

Which Jobs Are Most Likely to Become Automated?

In January 2018, Amazon opened a completely cashier-less grocery store known as Amazon Go. A working experiment that shows the power (and limitations) of AI and automation in the service industry is just one example of what human labor machines can actually replace. 

Yet not all experts agree on the real, practical applications of automation. While occupations like cooks and servers, housekeepers and warehouse jobs have a high potential for automation, it’s only because they utilize predictable physical activity in tasks. Positions in industries like education, the medical field, and technology have yet to see the same kind of automation potential. 

Reliance on human skills is what makes businesses possible. For any industry to succeed, human skills should come first, with automation as auxiliary.

Related Article: Amazon Go Pushes the Limits of Mobile Commerce

Automation Might Not Be as Big a Threat as We Thought

One study has shown that just under 5 percent of occupations can become fully automated. This suggests we should not fear replacement, but rather we should embrace restructuring. 

Today, 20 percent of what we do daily at work could become obsolete due to automation. This isn’t a bad thing. The soft skills of humans, such as emotional intelligence and leadership abilities, paired with the reliability of artificial intelligence sets up opportunities for powerful and meaningful synergies. Turning our attention and energy away from mundane, repeatable tasks lets us set our sights on the work that matters. There is a reason why in-person customer service representatives and creative planners have a low chance of automation. We can learn a lot from the demands of these positions on how to make our own careers invaluable.

Related Article: How to Survive When the Robots Come for Your Job

Preparing the Workforce for Automation

Giving workers a way out of the path of automation is the key to a successful transition. Offer mentoring opportunities, paths to management, and access to courses that can retrain workers in fields likely to become automated. Help students to choose training paths that are likely to result in long-term stable careers, such as engineering, robotics and computer programming. After all, all that machinery and artificial intelligence will need someone to build it.

It’s what makes us different from robots that could be the key to saving our jobs. Are you ready to help employees robot-proof their careers? From diversifying resumes to working on communication skills, help give workers the skills that robots can’t replace. Take a look at this infographic for more detail on the future of automation, where human workers fit in, and how to make retool the workforce for the future.

How to Robot-Proof Your Career
Source: Online Bachelor Degrees