How will automation affect your job?
By Qinyu Ding

Automation has brought us higher production rate and increased productivity, thus becoming more and more popular in our life. However, fears about the transformation of automation of the workplace and effects on employment date back centuries. Fast forward and rapid recent advances in automation technologies, including artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and robotics are now raising the fears anew—and with new urgency.

"What effect does it have on our career?"

Choose your occupation and let’s get started:

In the future,

I'm sorry, what's your job?

tasks of your job
are susceptible to automation.

On average, 47.13% tasks of all jobs are AUTOMATABLE.

Roles in more cut-and-dried activity areas or those which require less human intelligence are most likely to be impacted by automation.

On the contrary, occupations with higher demand in creativity, interpersonal and networking skills as well as empathy stand fatter chance to survive.

“High risk” jobs represent only one-quarter of all jobs, however. The remaining, more secure jobs include a broader array of occupations ranging from professional and technical roles with high educational requirements to low-paying personal care and domestic service work characterized by non-routine or abstract activities and social and emotional intelligence.

Automation potential by major occupation group, 2016

Automation Potential(%)

However, this is NOT unprecedented

For centuries, the emerging of new technology has constantly changed employment. Technologies rose in the First and the Second Industrial Revolution not only partially disrupted the workforce, but also boosted job creation.

Technology adoption can and often does cause significant short-term labor displacement, but history shows that, in the longer run, it creates a multitude of new jobs and unleashes demand for existing ones, more than offsetting the number of jobs it destroys even as it raises labor productivity

Throughout these large shifts of workers across occupations and industries, jobs in manufacturing, mining, and algriculture declined in employment.

However, these declines have been more than offeset by increasement in employment in other sectors, like Utilities, Construction, Trade, restaurants and hotels, Transport, storage and communication, Finance, insurance, real estate and business services, Government services, Community, social and personal services

Share of total employment by sector in the United States, 1950–2010


For the future, it is true that
significant share of work will be displaced to 2030

About half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using existing technologies. In about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.

But there will be many new jobs being created at the same time.

While automation will prove challenging for tens of millions of workers globally who will need to switch occupations, in the long-term the economy can adjust to provide enough work for everyone.

There are seven identified global trend that can potentially contribute to increasing labor demand to 2030, including:

  • rising incomes
  • aging health care
  • technology spending
  • investment in real estate construction
  • investment in infrastructure
  • investment in energy transitions and efficiency
  • marketization of unpaid work.
  • Rising incomes in emerging economies will create the largest-scale new labor demand as spending increases on consumer goods, health care, and education.

    It was estimated to be able to create between about 250 million and 280 million new full-time equivalent jobs, net of automation, by 2030.

    The growth due to rising incomes can mitigate automation’s expected toll on workers in retail and accommodation and food services; retail salespeople, food preparation workers, and waiters see some of the largest boosts from higher consumer spending. It also benefits export of foods and goods to other countries.

    The increasing income also adds diversity to daily expenditures, resulting from purchasing higher quaility of lives like health care and education. Aging health care is estimated to increase labor demand by 26 million to 43 million jobs.

    As technology development continues apace, the technology sector is expected to keep growing rapidly, and this in turn will create incremental labor demand to develop and deploy technology.

    Another important potential source comes from currently unpaid work such as cooking and house cleaning. Some of this type of work could be shift to paid employment due to the rising female labor participantion rates in this area, for example, daycare or pre-kindergarten schooling programs.

    The last three trends share the same feature - they are all susceptible to the investment from the government.

    If the investment follows the current trend, infrastructure is estimated to be able to create 10-30 million jobs while the estimation for real estitate is 10-50 million. Shifts of renewable energy is estimated to create 0-10 million jobs, which is the smallest sector of all seven trends.

    However, if the progress of these trends is accelerated by additional investment, which is called "Step-up scenario”, it is estimated that more job opporunities will be created in those situations.

    Potential jobs created from seven catalysts of labor demand, 2016–2030

    (Million full-time equivalent jobs)

    How do we prepare for the shift of the future workforce?

    From individuals to governments, what can we do to help address the workforce transitions and challenges they bring?

    Individuals will need to be prepared for a rapidly evolving future of work. Acquiring new skills that are in demand and resetting intuition about the world of work will be critical for wellbeing. In the future, the demand for different skill sets will also be affected by automation.

    Some skill categories will be less in demand.

    Basic cognitive skills, which include basic data input and processing, will decline by 15 percent, falling to 14 percent of hours worked from 18 percent.

    Demand for physical and manual skills, which include general equipment operation, will also drop, by 14 percent, but will remain the largest category of workforce skills in 2030 in many countries, accounting for 25 percent of the total hours worked.

    The strongest growth in demand will be for technological skills, the smallest category today, which will rise by 55 percent and by 2030 will represent 17 percent of hours worked, up from 11 percent in 2016.

    Demand for social and emotional skills such as leadership and managing others will rise by 24 percent, to 22 percent of hours worked.

    Demand for higher cognitive skills will grow moderately overall, but will rise sharply for some of these skills, especially creativity.

    From the perspective of business, business leaders should embrace automation and AI while carefully managing workforce transition:

  • Accelerate deployment of automation and AI, as they have potential to improve forecasting and sourcing, optimize and automate operations, develop targeted marketing and pricing, and enhance the customer experience.
  • Redesign businesses processes to unlock productivity gains. Companies should conduct research to understand how to implement the sort of changes that will be needed to harness the full potential of automation.
  • Adapt talent strategy and manage workforce transitions. This will involve a combination of recruiting automation-savvy professionals, as well as retraining workers to play new roles.
  • Furthermore, governments must make workforce transitions and job creation a more urgent priority.

  • Radically scale midcareer training opportunities to make lifelong learning a reality.
  • Make job creation and worker re-deployment a national priority. More investment is needed for encouraging companies to invest in worker training and redeployment through tax and other incentives, supporting entrepreneurship and small business creation by streamlining regulations and revisiting personal bankruptcy laws that discourage risktaking.
  • Expand transition support measures for workers. Gorverment should focuse labor agencies on reemployment and the acquisition of new skills, rather than simply on handing out unemployment benefits or controlling for fraud.
  • Efforts need to be done by individuals, businesses, and governments


    JOBS LOST, JOBS GAINED: WORKFORCE TRANSITIONS IN A TIME OF AUTOMATION. (2017, December). Retrieved from Insights/Future of Organizations/What the future of work will mean for jobs skills and wages/MGI-Jobs-Lost-Jobs-Gained-Report-December-6-2017.ashx.

    SKILL SHIFT AUTOMATION AND THE FUTURE OF THE WORKFORCE. (2018, May). Retrieved from insights/future of organizations/skill shift automation and the future of the workforce/mgi-skill-shift-automation-and-future-of-the-workforce-may-2018.ashx.