There’s a lot of doom and gloom these days about the rapid progress of artificial intelligence and automation in the workforce. Predictions of mass unemployment at the hands of cheaper and more reliable automatons abound.

But are the robots really coming for your job? In some cases that answer is yes, but in many more cases it simply isn’t feasible to get rid of human workers.

McKinsey Quarterly researchers found that while nearly half the tasks of the workers they studied could be automated, only 5 percent of the jobs studied could be fully automated out of existence.

The jobs least likely to be affected by automation are those that require the highest degrees of creativity and empathy. They believe that in many cases automation will streamline the work done in these jobs to allow people to spend more time on tasks requiring these human abilities.

Here are four examples of types of work that are affected by automation, but are in little danger of being replaced completely.

1. Restaurant Workers

There’s been a lot of talk this year about the rush to automate fast food. The likelihood of robots taking the jobs of most restaurant workers remains unlikely, however.

Fast food restaurants were designed from the beginning with automation in mind. Human workers are expected to follow specific workflows to achieve a simple meal that tastes the same in every location.

Now that machines are becoming able to perform these already “robotic” workflows comes as no surprise. Fast food is a far cry from even the humblest diner, however.

Whether fine dining or neighborhood bar, humans will continue to perform the tasks that aren’t able to be performed by machines. While being a burger-flipper is on the way out, being a chef is still here to stay.

2. Office Workers

Even in industries rushing to automate away significant portions of their workforces, plenty of jobs will still be available that simply can’t be accomplished by machines. Jobs that require creativity and insight are unlikely to be automated any time soon.

In business, leadership and management positions aren’t the only jobs that can’t be performed by advanced algorithms. Roles within marketing such as brand designers and community managers still require human-only skills such as empathy and inspiration to be effective.

Outside of unskilled labor, automation is continuing the trend of computerization that has increased the efficiency and productivity of office workers. This will continue to mean that fewer people are needed to perform tasks that may have once required many, but it doesn’t spell the end of the need for human workers.

Although electronic invoicing, tax preparation and hiring becoming increasingly automated, marketing analysts, human resources specialists and brand evangelists aren’t going anywhere.

3. Healthcare Workers

Like every aspect of our lives, healthcare hasn’t been immune to the rise of automation. Particularly in laboratory analysis, automation has been streamlining the way doctors and nurses practice medicine.

There’s something to be said for having a good bedside manner, however. Caring for people requires the sensitivity and empathy that can’t be replaced by a machine. Machines simply can’t comfort or care for people the same way other people can.

Similarly, the role of diagnosing a condition isn’t as straightforward as many people may believe. While machines follow complex sets of rules to reach conclusions, they lack the nuance often needed to arrive at a correct diagnosis.

Those who work in the healthcare industry in support roles such as lab specialists and pharmacists may see jobs contract in the coming years. It’s unlikely that the roles of nurses, primary care providers and hospice workers will be affected, though.

4. Teachers

With the advent of computers, education has gone through some large transformations in the past few decades. However, even in online learning environments, the role of teacher is still critical to successful learning.

A teacher isn’t merely a repository of knowledge, they are the experts that can anticipate and respond to the questions and needs of learners. They provide guidance, mentorship and can even function as role models for students. Try getting that out of a machine.

There’s no doubt, though, that the teaching profession will continue to evolve along with the tools they have access to. Online learning has become more common, and guided self-learning in massive open online courses (MOOC) are increasingly popular.


Is My Job at Risk From Becoming Automated?

If the tasks you accomplish as part of your job are predictable, repetitive and follow specific workflows, then you may need to be worried. After all, if you ever think to yourself a robot could do your job, then there’s a good chance it will in the coming years.

However, if your job requires creativity, empathy and oversight over complex and ever-changing processes then chances are it will still exist in the years to come.


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