Twenty five years ago, if you told a typist that her job was under threat of extinction, she’ll probably shrug and move on. At the time, few people owned typewriters or even bothered to learn how to type. So the job of typing was exclusive to typists and receptionists. But that was about to change. Today, typing is not longer a professional skill; it became a survival skill since almost everyone owns a computer or a phone. Most people didn’t see that coming but it happened.
You see, as the world progresses, the rate of change accelerates. For instance, the agricultural led economy doubled every 900 years; but the industrial led economy doubled every 15 years. However, the fourth industrial led economy is predicted to double quarterly per year. In fact, Scientists have predicted that the 21st century will not experience 100 years of progress; they believe the 21st century will experience 20,000 years worth of progress. In other words, drastic changes may happen faster than we expect. In this article, we look at professions and careers that are under threat today.
Note that these careers are not necessary going away. Some of them are simple getting disrupted to the point that the career skills required to remain relevant in the field is changing rapidly. So just as proactive typists adapted to using computers, people in these fields can learn about the direction their industry is going and start developing the skills they need to function.
1. Banking and Finance
Bank tellers have already been partially replaced by ATMs, but soon even higher level bankers, including loan officers, could be easily replaced by automated systems. Algorithms can now analyze financial data and prepare accounts (as well as do tax returns) — without the need for accountants.
Computers are already used to make stock trades faster than humans ever could and they are even used to predict how the market will react and make recommendations whether you should buy or sell. These are tasks that used to require the service of bankers, stock brokers, and finance analysts. But the skills these professions require are quickly changing. Refusing to adapt your skills in the direction the industry is moving may lead to the fate of the typist that refused to adapt.
According to Forbes report on the future of accounting, accounting tasks such as tax, payroll, audits, and banking can be completely automated using Artificial Intelligence. Tasks like invoice payments, bank reconciliations, risk assessments, and time-consuming audit processes will be easily and better handled by accounting software. Some governments are already using big data and machine learning to check tax returns and identify potential fraud in tax matters.
While it is more likely that these advancements will help and not eliminate professional accountants, there are real threats to traditional accounting roles because the number of traditional accounting jobs is likely to decline. Some sources predict that accountant roles will move towards consulting and advising. If this is the case, then most accounting professions could soon be requiring a little more extroverted personalities. Regardless, these accounting technologies will need people to use and interpret the output. And a new skill set will be required.
3. Some Health Care Professions
Some aspects of health care jobs can now be done by computers. For example, surgeons already use automated robotic systems to aid with less invasive procedures. IBM ’s Watson proved it can diagnose lung cancer from analyzing MRI scans much more reliably than real people. Johnson & Johnson has an FDA-approved device that can deliver low levels of anesthesia automatically — no anesthesiologist required.
These A.I tools and programs will severely impact the medical field like medical diagnostics, Radiology, and Medical Imagining (among others). With A.I it will become easier to diagnose complex cases and rare diseases, process lab results, medical histories, diagnostic images, and patient characteristics. Again although the aim of A.I in healthcare will be more for providing medical professionals with better decision-making tools, the jobs that largely involve repetitive tasks are likely at risk.
4. Marketing and Advertising
Traditional marketing and advertising profession is already severely disrupted with the presence of digital media and marketing technologies. Today any smart person can quickly develop skills in digital marketing and advertising. Companies are experimenting with automated ad buying. Instead of having people choose which magazines to place ads in and on which pages, the computers take care of it, using billions of data points for reference. Future advances in information technology will future affect marketing jobs. Companies now consider knowledge of digital marketing and analytic tools and strategies over academic qualification in marketing. Small business owners are learning to handle their digital marketing needs. If you decide to go to school to study digital marketing for four years, for instance, your knowledge will be outdated by the time to graduate. This profession required on-demand skill development and agility to survive, and then thrive.
5. Lawyers and Paralegals
In the discovery phase of a lawsuit, lawyers and paralegals may be required to sift through thousands, even tens of thousands of documents depending on the case. Now, sophisticated databases can use big data techniques including syntactic analysis and keyword recognition to accomplish the same tasks in much less time. In fact, it’s likely that a machine learning system could be legally “trained” to review precedent and case history and even draft legal briefs — which have traditionally been the job of lower level law firm associates.
But don’t think it’s only the lowly junior associates whose jobs are at risk: lawyers are well paid now to predict the outcome of major cases, but a statistical model created by researchers at Michigan State University and South Texas College of Law was able to predict the outcome of almost 71 percent of U.S. Supreme Court cases. That ability to predict outcomes is possibly the most valuable (and lucrative) service lawyers provide, and it was easily matched by a computer.
Also in 2016, DonotPay, the world first robot lawyer was developed in UK to provide legal advice for people looking to contest their parking fines. It mines documents and offers solutions based on a series of simple questions that it asks. Today, it goes by the description, “Fight corporations, beat bureaucracy, and sue anyone at the click of a button” Imagine how many more apps like this would be in operation in the next 10 years. Paralegals and lawyers who do not adjust their operations run the risk of losing their jobs.
The journalism profession as we know it is changing fast, thanks or no-thanks to contemporary media on one hand and technological advancements on the other hand. With social media and blogging platforms, citizen journalism is significantly encroaching into the jobs of journalists.
Also, a lot of people don’t know this, but many news stories you read now are increasingly written by or with artificial intelligence. You get these news releases about things that are happening in sports, for example, or in business. But people are not creating some of these pieces. It’s actually AI that’s releasing this information. In fact, if you’ve read a financial earnings report in the past few years, you’ve probably read an article or press release generated by a machine. Artificial intelligence tools are transforming the way journalists worked, by mining mountains of data to identify potential stories for reporters. Tools like Forbes’ Bertie, The Washington Post’s Heliograf, and Reuters’ Lynx. Instead of complain about how untrained people are doing terrible journalism, smart journalists need to learn how to take advantage of new media technologies and how people consume news today.
I don’t see the job of teachers going away anytime soon. The world will continue to need teachers to teach kids and adults. But the job description for teachers is rapidly changing. The lockdown due to the corona virus has further exposed education institutions to the need for modern day teachers. This modern teacher will be more technology savvy as well as a psychologist. They will no longer be defined by knowledge of a particular subject but by their ability to guide students through personalized learning.
Schools and teachers are moving towards using technology aided learning tools to enhance students learning experience. Students are starting to learn from pre-recorded classes and lectures, leaving the teacher to facilitate discussions and personalize the learning experience. This could replace the repetitive job of teachers physically teaching the same curriculum to different batch of students year after year.
Here’s one more…
Programs already exist to help individuals design their own homes, making architectural skill and even design and color choices more automated. For now, most people are using the software mostly as a visualization tool, or to replace architects for very small projects. But as the sophistication of the programs improves, so will the need for human architects and designers diminish or rather, so will the skill architects need evolve.
A report by the Institute of the Future, “estimated that around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.” We can’t say exactly how things are going to change even in the next few years, but based on what is already going on, the prevalent skill requirements in these and many professions are already under threat. But you can learn the direction your industry is going and start developing the skills you need to function profitably.