Future economy: Jobs likely to be lost to computerization

USA Today – workers wanting secure employment in coming decades will need skills that complement software applications, rather than compete with them.

Those who don’t possess such skills face a nearly-50 percent chance of having their occupations replaced by automation, according to two University of Oxford professors who studied technology’s impact on employment over the last 500 years.

The career fields seen losing the most jobs include not just relatively low-skilled occupations such as telemarketing and retail sales, but also high-paying positions now held by accountants, auditors, budget analysts, technical writers and insurance adjusters, among others.

All of those jobs face at least an 85 percent chance of being automated, say Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne in their 2013 paper, “The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization?”

The jobs most at risk all have one thing in common: they’re in occupations “mainly consisting of tasks following well-defined procedures that can easily be performed by sophisticated algorithms,” the pair wrote.

Even some highly-educated, technical occupations face relatively bleak chances of seeing growing employment in their field, as ever-smarter computers become better at analyzing massive amounts of data, to support all kinds of business decision-making.

Mathematicians, for example, face a 47 percent chance of seeing their jobs automated, the same percentage for all current occupations as a whole.

But there is a bright side to the new research out of Oxford, especially for those in occupations which software can’t yet perform.

The jobs that will persist in the future include those that either take advantage of uniquely-human traits – such as manual dexterity, creativity and emotional intelligence – or that improve the lives of other humans directly in a face-to-face setting.

For example, dentists, nutritionists, athletic trainers, podiatrists, elementary school teachers and occupational, recreational and mental health therapists all have a less than 1 percent chance of being replaced by computer software, say Frey and Osborne.

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