Health, education and retail are among our top industries set to benefit from robots and automation over the next 15 years, a new report shows.
Already, technology is changing our work lives for the better.
Busy parents can work from home if they need to look after a sick child or do the school pick-up.
No longer do business managers have to worry about co-ordinating large team meetings now they can easily set up a conference call.
Technology won’t just make our lives easier – it has the potential to create new jobs that we can’t even imagine existing.
But it’s not all good news.
A new report, from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and AI work analytics platform Faethm, predicts that by 2034 an extra 5.3 million jobs could be created in Australia – but only if the government invests in preparing our workers for the future.
About 2.7 million Australian workers are at risk of losing their jobs to automation over the next 15 years, so we need to pour money into re-educating them and giving them new skills to prevent long-term unemployment, the report says.
“If we can lift the skills of the entire population, that will have great economic returns for the nation and provide people with greater economic opportunity,” ACS chief executive Andrew Johnson told The New Daily.
Over the past decade, a huge number of jobs have already been lost to automation – just ask a former factor worker, bank teller or supermarket checkout operator.
Other jobs on the chopping block include sales assistants, waiters, kitchen hands, truck drivers (hello, driverless trucks), journalists and accountants.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – especially if we’re prepared for it.
Aaron McEwan, vice president of Gartner research and advice company, said jobs will inevitably disappear due to new technologies, but argued “there are many more upsides to automation than downsides”.
“It’s going to free us from the mundane, the repeatable, the mind-numbing stuff that nobody likes to do,” Mr McEwan told The New Daily.
It’s going to let us focus on the stuff that delivers real value, where we can use our very human skills in a way that AI or robotics technology can’t.’’
He said among those set to benefit were teachers, and people working labour-intensive jobs that can’t be replaced by robots like house cleaning.
“If you’re a teacher, most of your lesson planning will probably be automated, which then frees you up to focus on actual teaching,” Mr McEwan said.
“Children have already embraced iPads – yes, they’re mind-rotters, but they’re also incredible teaching tools.”
Jobs of the future will be in the tech industry, or will be “social creative” jobs like Instagram influencers, he said.
“Somebody who is using advanced, emerging technology, and using it in a creative way, those are the jobs of the future,” Mr McEwan said.
“The advice I’d give to the average Aussie is: Don’t wait for your employer to tell you what skills you need for the future – you really have to go out and find it and focus on that.”
To infinity and beyond – will automation give us more free time?
In the near-distant future, automation is going to revolutionise almost every industry.
But will that make our working life easier or harder?
Business futurist Morris Miselowski has predicted that by 2040, we’ll be working more hours than we do now.
That’s because technology is going to make it even harder to switch off outside traditional nine-to-five hours.
“We’re doing more work at home and looking at emails away from the office now, so if we add up those micro-minutes we’d argue that we’re already working more hours and I think that’s going to get deeper and deeper,” Mr Miselowski told The New Daily.
He said many people will likely have multiple income streams.
“You’ll have a central job, but perhaps you enjoy doing gardening, or you’re a great knitter or enjoy painting,” he said.
“We can rent out a room, or jump in a car and be an Uber driver. That’s the world we’re moving into, a world of fluidity and multiple incomes.”
Mr Miselowski said education had already undergone huge changes.
“If you’re not familiar with how to change a tyre, what do we do? We jump onto YouTube, teach ourselves something in that moment and go and do it,” he said.
“Today’s kids know that they’re going to be learning forever.”