Hey, Robot, hands off my job!

Covid gave rise to a whole range of 'new' anxieties. We started to look much more closely at our health, our relationships, our finances and our work/life balance. Indeed, more recently there has been a lot of talk about whether there will be any work at all for us in the not-too-distant future.

Automation Theorists believe that there will be fewer jobs due to advances in automation. However..

Over the course of the last few decades, in industry after industry, supply began to far outstrip demand. This phenomenon—overcapacity—led to a “long downturn” of economic stagnation, in which companies were forced to invest less and less in production. In other words, automation theorists are right to observe a decline in jobs; they’re just wrong in attributing it to technological advancement.

Want to talk about your bad day with a robot bar tender?

Want to talk about your bad day with a robot bar tender?


Although automation aspires to the full replacement of human workers, it more usually involves the slow disintegration and reallocation of specific tasks. Companies like Uber or Lyft, for example, partly automate work by outsourcing supervision and oversight (both forms of unproductive labour) to an app. Annie McClanahan, a U.C. Irvine English professor working on a book about the gig economy, says that automation today looks uncannily like automation during Marx’s nineteenth century; we’re returning to pre-industrial methods of wage payment, like the piece rate and tips, with a lot of work being done at home. “The seamstress paying for her own scissors and sewing machine is the same as the Uber driver paying for his gasoline,” McClanahan said.

A 2020 World Economic Forum report predicted that robotics and automation would displace 85 million jobs globally in the coming five years.

But don’t panic just yet. The same report that predicts robots will soon steal our jobs also says that even more roles will open as a result of this shift — 97 million to be exact. These are the “jobs of the future,” and they are actually better opportunities, specifically for early-career professionals.

There are two reasons why:

  • The more computers are trained to conduct high-repetitive tasks that are often assigned to entry-level employees, the more roles focused on complex tasks with competitive salaries will arise in their place. This means that young professionals may have a wider range of interesting careers to choose from.
  • People just entering the workforce usually struggle to land roles with higher salaries because they have to compete with senior candidates. This competitive disadvantage disappears as new types of roles — roles that no one has done before — are created. Younger workers are less likely to be forced to compete with their seniors, and more likely to be pioneers

That said, if you are just entering the workforce, you may feel overwhelmed by the plethora of the new (and sometimes confusing) opportunities. To figure out which path you want to take first, you’ll need spend some time researching what areas feel right for you.

In my next Blog, I'll be discussing how to future-proof your career.

In the meantime, find staff and jobs in Hospitality, Events and Festivals at gigr.com/register