Stephen Quinn, Jobbio’s CEO and co-founder, looks at whether we are truly ready for jobs to be automated.

When we think of the future of work we often imagine a far-off time where our colleagues are robots, our workspaces are virtual and our jobs are almost unrecognisable. The reality, however, is the future of work is already upon us with evolving tech having a transformative effect on the ways we work, how we’re organised, how we communicate and ultimately, what it means to be employed.

It is undeniable that change is coming at an unprecedented scale. Although we don’t know exactly the greatness of the impact it will have on our society as a whole, the shift to automation is something companies need to be ready for.

Data by the consultancy firm PwC showed that more than 10 million workers in the UK are at high risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years while a different study by the think tank Future Advocacy said that automation will affect one in five jobs across the country.

Industries that are likely to see continued, accelerated automation in the next few years are media, tech and finance. It will also become more common for data processing to be carried out solely by machines to eliminate the possibility of human error and delays.

Jobs that involve people management and coordination are less likely to be automated soon, as human capabilities still outperform machines in this regard. Healthcare and education are industries in which high levels of human interaction and analysis will still be required.

In the UK, people surveyed believe the jobs that will become more in-demand will be IT specialists, engineers, doctors, nurses and developers. The jobs they believe will become obsolete are telemarketers, travel agents and factory workers.

As machines and automation are integrated into our work-life we’ll also see the creation of new roles as a result of this change. With driverless cars becoming the norm there will be a need for self-driving car mechanics who can repair and operate them. As government becomes less involved in controlling and monitoring our finances, alternative currencies and cryptocurrencies will continue to rise in popularity and Digital Currency Advisers will be vital to help people manage their finances. In the future we can also expect drones to be utilised for a number of tasks such as monitoring borders, fertilising crops and even delivering food and consumer goods, creating the need of a manager to their activities.

These are only a few roles that will emerge in the upcoming years, but how can companies and job seekers prepare for the further changes that are coming? First, there is the need to have a change of attitude on how we judge and reward people.

Starting with traditional educational structures, where currently we’re awarded for passive learning and regurgitation of information. We also need to abandon the idea that education and training are limited to our time in school, college or entry-level jobs. We need to redefine academic standards to put greater emphasis on curiosity, initiative and learning by experimentation.

For job seekers, the main advice is to boost their employability by building on the skills and qualities that can’t be replicated by machines.

The pressure to rethink how companies develop talent will only grow as AI and automation transform entire industries. Companies will need to foster a culture of continuous learning and development that goes beyond extended onboarding. 

While the future of work brings inevitable disruption, it also brings amazing opportunities. Much like the tech revolutions that have gotten us to this point, the next wave will make our lives more efficient, productive and easier.

The UK has the tools needed to be prepared when automation becomes a part of our working lives. Companies and job seekers throughout the country just need to put these tools to work and be open to changes and improvements in their roles or sectors. Accepting that AI will revolutionise how we work can start with focusing on the positives rather than negatives while getting ready to face the challenges coming ahead.