Technological unemployment – The conclusions of a recent study on the consequences of automation and new technologies on jobs provide some food for thought about the types of employees at risk of being replaced by technology within the next few years.
The technological automation that is currently underway around the world will not only create losers. This is the good news in the report from the Institut du Québec titled Automation, new models of business and employment: a Quebec prospective, released in January.
“Jobs requiring non-routine cognitive work will be more secure from robots and intelligent software,” we read in the report. “[…] Tasks requiring non-standardized analytical skills, improvisation, solving new problems, creativity, knowledge transfer, supervision of other people, independence and social skills.”
In addition, there is a whole range of new jobs that will be emerging in the artificial intelligence sector (robot repairers, programmer-psychologists, lawyers that specialize in AI) and cybersecurity.
Technological unemployment: The other side of the coin
It’s important however not to put our heads in the sand – the authors quote a study from the OECD that estimates that 9% of Canadian jobs are at risk of disappearing while 23.5% will undergo major upheavals. Technological unemployment is, indeed, a real issue.
In fact, whole categories of jobs are at risk. Workers performing “routine manual” or “routine cognitive” work are targeted, A lift truck operator is therefore just as concerned about technological changes as the office clerk who fills out forms.
The C.D. Howe Institute currently estimates that 57% of jobs in the Canadian economy are “routine” and predicts that one third of them will disappear by 2025. “It’s a situation that will especially affect workers with little education,” add the report’s authors.
The Quebec reality
The authors have made a projection for Quebec, which is that 1.73 million jobs will be affected by digitalization and robotization.
“No organization, regardless of its size, sector or location, will be immune from the effects of these technological disturbances,” they write.
The services sector, which provides 80% of Quebec jobs, appears to be particularly vulnerable. The authors quote a study from the McKinsey Global Institute which places the restaurant and accommodation sector at the top of the list of jobs with a high probability of automation (at 69%), followed by the manufacturing sector (at 61%) and the retail trade (at 49%).