As processing power continues to advance and new technology emerges with ever-greater potential to transform our lives, workers around the world are already beginning to see how artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms, big data and intelligent systems are impacting their day-to-day existence.
But what effect will new technology have on the future workforce? How many jobs could fall victim to automation? And who is most at risk?
In 2017, the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis (ISEA) in the United States published a report based on an Oxford study into the probability of automation in various occupations, and the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics comprehensive employment data.
ISEA highlighted some startling findings. It found that certain groups were more at risk from AI and automation than others. These include:
Young workers aged 16-19 also face a 66% higher risk of losing a job to automation than workers aged 35-44.
Two factors seemed to be at the heart of which jobs are most likely to be automated: the complexity of the tasks involved, and the education levels needed to complete those tasks.
For example, almost all cashier or checkout roles are expected to be lost to machines over the next few years. Women were also found to work in more professions at risk of automation, making them twice as likely as men to lose their job.
But those with an advanced degree from a top university have a six times smaller chance of losing their job to automation, than a worker without a high school degree (U.S.) or equivalent.
Researchers found a clear correlation between educational achievement and a lower risk of facing job automation. For example, workers who left education without formal qualifications are judged to have a 74.6% risk of facing job automation over the next 20 years.
Those with a master’s degree – either from a campus-based course or through online study with a leading university – have a 25% risk, while those with a doctorate degree face just a 13% risk.
It seems education could be one of the few ways to find protection against technological advances. Online degrees, for example, are well suited to working professionals who want to combine education with their careers. Children will likely grow up in a world where the option of an online degree is much more common than it was for their parents.
Professor Johannes Moenius, Director of the ISEA, is clear about the challenge. He says: “Every worker and every middle school and high school kid needs to know: if you are not getting a broad and solid education, if you don’t embrace life-long learning, there is no guaranteed pay-check around the corner in the future.”
Studying online, alongside your job, is a great way to gain new skills and knowledge for the future. It can even be an important step towards pursuing a new career. Many international universities now offer online degree programmes for this purpose.
The University of Liverpool is one of these universities. It is among Europe’s largest providers of online postgraduate degrees, attracting around 8,000 online students from more than 160 countries. The University is a member of the UK’s Russell Group of research-led universities and consistently ranks in the top 200 universities worldwide*.
With more than more than 30 online postgraduate programmes in Management, Psychology, Computer Science, Law, Education and Health - you can study without having to travel, leave home or interrupt your life.
*The University of Liverpool consistently ranks in the top 200 universities worldwide in several of the main university league tables: Times Higher Education’s World Rankings 2017-2018 – 177; QS World University Rankings® 2017-18 – 173; Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2017 – in the top 150.