A robot picking up a cardboard box and stacking them

The future of work

As technology continues to surge ahead and rapidly transform our working environments and career prospects, our attentions are inevitably turning to the idea that there will be an ever widening gap between the tasks that us humans will be carrying out in our work and the tasks that will no doubt be automated.

For many the prospect of automation and technological innovation brings uncertainty and unease, especially with regard to the number of workers who are set to be displaced by robots in the not too distant future, the social implications stemming from a potential spike in unemployment statistics and the strength of our economy as a result.

Our latest post ‘The dark side of automation’ explored the potential social effects that mass lay-offs could contribute to, largely the mental health implications associated with unemployment. We called for workers to direct their attention to not simply standing by and waiting for robotic innovation to force their hand but instead to future proof their careers well in advance by way of personal development and upskilling.

To provide further insight and to help you to build a career that is supported and strengthened by automation we have explored the emerging job roles that may be created from our innate determination to automate and innovate the world we live in.

 An insight report into the future of jobs released by the Centre for New Economy and Society in 2018[1] referred to our current era as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What is refreshing about this report is that instead of dwelling on the prospect of national job insecurity, career unsurety and economic fluctuations, it instead takes a positive stance on the potential opportunities emerging from the age of automation for our economy, our society and for each of us as individuals.

Page 8 (viii) of the report discusses the expected changes to employment types;

“Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. However, 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise. In addition, businesses are set to expand their use of contractors doing task-specialized work…”

The report goes on to discuss the roles that are destined for automation. Interestingly, the affected roles will not only be those relating to operations and processing i.e. Production Operative and Warehouse Operative. It is predicted that even those work tasks that have up to now remained human led such as communication, interaction, coordination, management, advice, reasoning and decision making will soon be automated.

Current estimations suggest 75 million jobs could be displaced by a shift in the division of work between human and machines, however the report goes on to estimate 133 million new roles may emerge.

What are these emerging roles going to be?

People who can fulfil roles that are significantly enhanced by technology such as;

  • Data Analysts
  • Scientists
  • Software Developers
  • Financial Analysts
  • Accountants
  • Social Media Specialists

are expected to be in high demand in the years to come.

Unsurprisingly, we will also experience an accelerating demand for a variety of specialist roles that relate to understanding and leveraging the latest technologies, including;

  • AI and Machine Learning Specialists
  • Process Automation Experts
  • Information Security Analysts
  • User Experience and Human Interaction Designers
  • Robotics Engineers

Roles that place a high reliance on distinctly human skills such as;

  • Customer Service Advisors
  • Sales and Marketing Professionals
  • Lawyers
  • Armed Forces and Police Officers
  • Nurses and Doctors
  • Care Workers

Along with other roles that depend on empathy, compassion, human to human connection and social and religious reasoning are destined to stay.

What skills will be important in the future?

While it is clear that a high proportion of our workforce will inevitably need to re-skill to fulfil the emerging specialist roles, we can predict with some certainty that the importance of what it is that makes us ‘human’ will become more all the more apparent and valuable.

  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Initiative
  • Critical thinking
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Attention to detail
  • Resilience
  • Flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Social influence

These are the skills that are destined to become more important than ever to prospective employers.

If we fail to manage the coming automation transformation effectively and simply stand idle while technology pulls ahead, we run the risk of leaving our workforces behind the times struggling to keep up with momentum and leading to a growing divide of skills.

If however, we as a society are prepared ahead of time and take active measures to not only innovate but also adapt our approach to workforces, opportunity, skills and individual development we can look forward to a boom in job opportunities and an improved working life for all where jobs at any level are routed in skills, knowledge and individual prowess.

The rewards of this bright new era for individuals and society as a whole, could be exactly what we need to reshape the employment landscape and finally begin to make headway into broadening opportunities for workers with disabilities, reducing pay and gender inequality and eradicating workplace exploitation.  

5 ways you can prepare for an automated future.

1. Set your sights high.

 Explore the emerging roles mentioned above to identify an exciting new prospect. You can start working towards the skills and qualifications you may need right now. Check out the Caree R post on adult learning grants to see if you can get help with returning to education. 

2. Build on your natural skills.

Examine the important future skills listed and seek opportunities to build on these in your home or working life. Consider temporary jobs or voluntary positions that could provide varied opportunities for using or developing these skills whilst building an impressive work experience record.

3. Develop your workplace skills.

If you hope to remain in your current industry and work alongside robots, here are 3 great ways you can upskill to make sure you are robot ready.

4. Moving up.

Moving up the ranks into a leadership or management position could provide some more stability than remaining in an operative role could. Check out our warehouse career path infographic to see where your career could take you.

5. Moving on.

If you feel that perhaps an immediate career change is in order, then check out this post providing a heap of alternative job ideas for warehouse workers.


The Future of Jobs. Centre for New Economy and Society. Released 2018 [Internet]  



Latest Warehouse Jobs


How useful did you find this article?
Thank you for your feedback!

Share location?

Do you want to share your location for a better user experience?