If history repeats itself, most of us won’t have to worry about technology killing off our jobs.
For a century and a half, computers, machines and robots have created more jobs than they have destroyed, according to new research published this week.
Economists at Deloitte studied employment records in England and Wales for every decade since 1871. They also analyzed labor data from 1992.
Researchers Ian Stewart, Debapratim De and Alex Cole found that jobs that require a routine have declined the most because they can be easily substituted by technology.
— Footwear and leather working jobs, which have declined 82% since 1992.
— Weavers and knitters (-79%)
— Metal making and treating process operators (-70%)
— Typists and related keyboard occupations (-57%)
— Secretaries (-52%)
— Energy plant workers (-51%)
— Farm workers (-50%)
— Metal machine setters and setter-operators (-44%)
Non-routine jobs, on the other hand, have exploded.
“Technology is highly complementary to cognitive, non-routine tasks…[and] there is little opportunity to apply technology in non-routine manual tasks, such as those done by care home workers.”
Specifically, the independent study found that the number of nursing jobs skyrocketed 909% since 1992. Teaching jobs ballooned 580%.
Other industries that have benefited significantly:
— Management consultants and business analysts (+365%)
— I.T. managers (+195%)
— Welfare, housing, youth and community workers (+183%)
— Care workers and home carers (+168%)
— Actors, dancers, entertainment hosts, producers and directors (+156%)
— Financial managers (+132%)
The Deloitte researchers admit they can’t predict the jobs of the future, but it’s likely that the in-demand tasks will require more social interaction, empathy and creativity.
“Machines will take on more repetitive and laborious tasks, but seem no closer to eliminating the need for human labor than at any time in the [past],” they concluded. “We believe that jobs will continue to be created, enhanced and destroyed much as they have in the last 150 years.”
This study was first reported by The Guardian.
The report is part of a growing amount of data and research on the topic of tech’s impact on jobs.
Amy Webb, a digital media futurist, recently predicted at least eight careers “ripe for disruption” in the next 10 to 20 years.
She called out factory workers and phone operators, but also journalists, lawyers, and financial middle men in the banking, escrow, insurance and mortgage sectors.
A Brookings Institution report published earlier this summer offers another perspective — that a pattern may not be so clear.
“There is, as yet, essentially no visible relationship between the use of robots and the change in manufacturing employment,” the Brookings researchers wrote. They say broader economic factors are at play.