Automation: the end of job prospects?

Is automation coming for all low-skilled jobs in Britain? Source: Libreshot
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Is automation coming for all low-skilled jobs in Britain? Source: Libreshot

By Kenzie Katz

In a recent investigation carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), it has been confirmed that roughly 1.5 million people in England are under high risk of having their occupations overthrown by automation. The ONS regards automation as the replacement of workers with new forms of technology that perform their previous tasks. This includes everything from new digital programmes to robotic methods. An average of 70% of the occupations at risk of being overtaken by automation are female operated. The next most highly impacted are young people and part-timers. So does this make automation a crisis for the student population, trying to find their way into low-skilled jobs after graduation? Or before they even start Uni, if they’re un-

able to find a simple job to make them enough money to get by during the terms of study? Students already typically struggle with juggling their time commitments with University so is it merely easier to offer a robot the job instead when they don’t require flexibility and have the added benefit of gaining no employment rights?

The ONS came to the conclusion that waiting staff, shelf fillers and rudimentary sales occupations were the most likely roles to be replaced by automated methods. In contrast, senior professionals and high education teaching professionals, alongside medical practitioners, were seen as the least likely to be impacted by the undertow of the automatic-era. ONS declared that, “It is not so much that robots are taking over, but that routine and repetitive tasks can be carried out more quickly and efficiently by an algorithm written by a human, or a machine designed for one specific function.” In a way, it could be viewed that a rise in automated jobs exploits the fact that human beings require training, holidays, tea breaks and sick leave. Are we being punished for not overworking ourselves?

This news is worrying as Bloom iterates; “qualifications and promotion all take time – the longer your career, the more likely it is you are doing a job that is safe from the rise of the machines.” The rate at which automation is evolving could have damaging consequences for students who are attempting to enter fields of work that are likely to be automated in upcoming years. Are we going to see a potential drop in student applicants for sectors that are most at risk as a result?

Personally, I believe that there is likely to be a drastic drop in the previously obtainable job prospects for students and graduates. This in turn could have a negative impact on the economy given the decrease in jobs available and the rate in which large conglomerates introduce automatic methods, rather than hiring new employees. Overall, the question we must ask ourselves is what impact will automation have on the future employability of job-seekers? Job opportunities may hit an all-time low, thus we must determine what the future of automation might entail for us before it happens.

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