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Robots are coming to take away your jobs: 4 tips to save your career from the automation takeover

Though a 2013 Oxford study mentioned that almost 50 per cent of all US jobs could be computerised within 20 years, 63 per cent of respondents to a survey felt nothing could take away their jobs in the next 50 years or so. This shows that too many people are unaware of the automation wave that is coming soon.

Food service and manufacturing are predicted to be the first job industries which would be taken over by robots and AI for the most part. If some industries get highly automated, the other fields are bound to get affected too. Employees need to re-skill themselves and fast! 

(Read: 6 tips to stop turning into a job market dinosaur)

"Recently, the Indian banking system has seen the beginning of the revolution. Robots also make burgers and do all kinds of middle tasks, leaving behind only entrepreneurship or a temporary staffing. Artificial intelligence manages investments, handles everything like insurance claims and basic bookkeeping, and performs basic HR tasks," says Avinash Bharwani, Vice President- New Business, Jetking.

It is your soft skills which will become extremely valuable when AI, automation or robots enter the job market. With the high pace at which new technologies are coming to the fore, we need to ask ourselves whether our work could be done by a robot. And if it can, we need to get worried.

The main jobs which will face a great automation risk include factory workers, drivers, cashiers, waiters and customer service personnel.

Which jobs are safe from automation and robots?

  • Creative jobs such as those of artists, designers, hairdressers, writers etc are safe as automation cannot replace true creativity
  • Those jobs where humans display their skills such as that of a sportsperson, singer or dancer will be safe as no one would enjoy robots competing against each other or marvel at a completely artificial voice
  • Jobs requiring empathy such as those of counsellors or therapists will be retained by humans. This category could also include to some extent teachers, vets, dentists, fitness trainers, police officers, fire-fighters etc
  • Jobs where you would need to cater to specific bits of knowledge such as that of tour guides or florists cannot be taken up by robots
  • Jobs which involve creating, maintaining or fixing automation or AI technology would also be safe from robots
  • This shows that while some jobs will be eliminated, many employees will find themselves becoming overseers to AI

Here are a few tips on how you can protect your job from automation and robots:

1. Be aware of how much automation risk you face

Do adequate research in your job field to understand if you should be worried about AI or robots taking over your job. List your skills and check whether any of them could be done by robots. Job skills which deal with people or need you to innovate and come up with new ideas are less likely to be automated. So, focus on enhancing these soft skills to safeguard your job from robots or automation in future.

2. Understand partial automation

It is quite possible that only a part of your job, such as inputting data and info onto spreadsheets, will be automated, which can actually boost your productivity. Often, employees spend a large chunk of their allotted work hours doing menial, routine jobs which do not utilise the human mind adequately. These routine jobs will be dealt with by using automation software, AI and robots. You need to make sure that your top job skills are polished and possess a human touch.

3. Work beyond your job description

To make yourself more valuable to your company, have a decent idea on how the rest of the departments work. Understand the goals of the company and increase your area of expertise so that if your job in under the threat of being taken over by automation, AI or robots, you have other options to bank on.

4. Look for a career move

If per chance you realise that your job will definitely be taken over by robots or automation and there is nothing you can do to change that, start looking for a different job which uses slightly different job skills that cannot be automated. Re-skill yourself accordingly - you can go for short certificate courses or sign up for a free course on Coursera, EdX or yet another MOOC website. Some companies also provide tuition reimbursement to employees looking to skill themselves further.

The automation wave would definitely help push forward human productivity to a great extent and the increasing proliferation of AI and robots is actually a great boon. "Artificial Intelligence is making technology more helpful and intuitive. And this is most evident in the smart-phone market. A phone that can learn your language, count your calories, answer your questions or recognize what a things look like," says Jetking's Bharwani.

India and automation

India too needs to join the rest of the world in pushing its way forward in the field of artificial intelligence. "China has progressed in AI-based research; India should also view AI as a critical element of national security strategy. India needs to be prepared for the digitalised future. Establishing AI-ready infrastructure, digital services and digital literacy is thus necessary to prepare India's jobs and skills markets for an AI-based future. The bold urban initiative by government called 'Smart Cities' is also giving a hint to the public to stay ready," says Bharwani.

The skills, experience and insight that a human being can provide are irreplaceable. Soft skills are the skills of the future. Machines and robots would only be taking over those jobs which are suitable for them. (Read: 10 Soft Skills to get you hired in 2017 )

As Bharwani says, "I believe the time is not far when the robots takeover workplaces and hence it is necessary to know how humans are required to handle them. AI is no more a toddler. Many AI researchers believe that the day will ultimately come. The question is, are humans ready for it?"


Published by Indiatoday in Education