Future of jobs – Roles that might not exist by 2030

Powerful new technologies are increasing productivity, improving lives, and reshaping our world. But what happens to the jobs they replace?
28 April 2021 | 2 Shares

Future of jobs: Roles that will not exist in 2030. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

  • In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, jobs will be rendered obsolete through 2030
  • Even those professions once thought to be insulated from technological disruption face an uncertain future
  • A large portion of the workforce could become redundant as a result of our incessant pursuit of convenience

These days, new technological advances happen all the time — and while some industries have flourished in the changing landscape, others have benefited from (some might say, fallen prey to) automation. Even if it increases productivity and improves our lives, its usage will inevitably substitute for at least some work activities currently performed by humans — a development that has sparked much public concern. Today, the future of some jobs is uncertain, even if once those jobs were thought to be insulated from technological disruption.

According to a report by McKinsey, between almost zero and 30% of hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the rate of automatic adoption. Results differ significantly by country, reflecting the mix of activities currently performed by workers and their prevailing wage rates. The potential impact of automation on employment varies by occupation and sector. It is important to note, however, that even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline, but rather workers may perform new tasks.

Sophisticated software, robotics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and changing trends threaten the livelihoods of everyone from taxi drivers and restaurant servers to computer programmers and librarians. Many economists predict that automation, not outsourcing, will lead to the loss of more than 1.5 million jobs in America’s manufacturing sector. These technical innovations may render many longstanding skills and trades obsolete — and the occupational grim reaper will discriminate according to class.

In a nutshell, automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions, where machines are unable to match human performance for now. But other jobs will be like this scenario in 1950, when the job of elevator operator was among the 270 careers listed on the United States Census. That job title is now extinct, representing the most distinct instance of an entire occupation being obliterated by automation in the 50 years that followed. The next half-century may be less forgiving.

Here’s a look at high-risk careers that will probably wilt by 2030.

Retail cashier

In recent years, the retail industry has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of cashiers present in stores, with self-service checkouts filling their positions instead. But that isn’t it: the ever-expanding reach of internet-based commerce – with Amazon Fresh for grocery deliveries as the latest threat–promises to decimate. 

According to a report by Cornerstone Capital Group, in the coming years, we can expect to see a loss of between six and 7.5 million retail jobs in the US alone as a result of automation. A large portion of the workforce – not just in the US and China, but across the globe – could become redundant as a result of our incessant pursuit of convenience.

Manufacturing jobs

According to analysis firm Oxford Economics, up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030. Each new industrial robot wipes out 1.6 manufacturing jobs, the firm said, with the least-skilled regions being more affected. On average, each additional robot installed in those lower-skilled regions could lead to nearly twice as many job losses as those in higher-skilled regions of the same country, exacerbating economic inequality and political polarisation, which is growing already, Oxford Economics said.

Oxford Economics also found the more repetitive the job, the greater the risk of it being wiped out. Jobs which require more compassion, creativity, or social intelligence are more likely to continue to be carried out by humans “for decades to come”, it said. To date, about 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to robots since 2000, including 400,000 in Europe, 260,000 in the US, and 550,000 in China. The firm predicted that China will have the most manufacturing automation, with as many as 14 million industrial robots by 2030.

Receptionists

With auto check-ins in both large and small hotels, there will be a lesser need for receptionists in the long run. Even in fast food joints, people can place orders through communication screens or tabs. With AI introduction, there is a good chance that robots can handle ordering and other related functions.

Proofreading

While editing is a more complex job in terms of tonality, comprehension, and others, proofreading is much simpler. Detecting grammatical mistakes, sentence construction, and other errors can easily be automated through different apps. For example, Grammarly is one of the most famous apps that professionals use for this purpose.