The secret is to embrace it

Skill sets that help you cope with automation takeover

Rick Delgado

Automation is far more capable than previously imagined. Thanks to advances in machine learning, big data analytics, and early artificial intelligence technologies, jobs that were once thought safe might not be anymore. Automation is happening at a blistering pace. Perhaps you’ve expressed some concern over your own job being taken over by a robot. While concern is more than understandable, there are things you can do to ensure your job remains in human hands.

Decades ago, many factories, like car manufacturers, started installing robots on the production line. This was a cause of concern for many factory workers as they feared this trend would lead to them losing their jobs. In some cases, those fears were justified. Robotic manufacturing tools were cheaper to run and maintain than paying an employee, and businesses focused on the bottom line decided to let go factory workers in waves. Automation, in a sense, had cost them their jobs. While many looked at the trend as unfortunate but simply part of technological evolution, they rested easy as they thought that at least their jobs were safe. After all, their skills could never be duplicated by a robot, no matter how advanced they were.

How to avoid automation takeover

When you consider a recent study from Oxford showing that nearly half of all American jobs could be automated, the prospect of keeping your job safe seems even more daunting. Even so, pay attention to those skill sets that are the most difficult for computers to automate. Take people management, for example. Managing employees is still a skill that requires a human touch. As of right now, no computer algorithm can take the place of all the responsibilities that a manager usually has. Creative work also needs that unique human element. Graphic design, writing, and more simply can’t be duplicated by a computer. Focus on cultivating similar skills.

Beyond those talents, even some basic skills can make a huge difference in avoiding automation takeover. Critical thinking is still a crucial element within the workplace. Good communication is also a vital talent that even some humans fail to possess. If you’re able to communicate well, this translates into value, not just in your individual job but in the jobs of those around you. Communication helps avoid errors and propels organizations forward to a specified goal. Computers may be able to solve certain problems, but communicating how it works to humans is still something that’s beyond their reach.

If there’s one thing that should raise a few red flags in your career, it’s when much of your job relies on performing routine tasks every day. No job is necessarily free of routine, but some rely far more on repetitive and structured tasks than others. If that is the case, the chances of it eventually being done by a computer increase dramatically. If your job tends to be repetitive day in and day out, you might want to focus on expanding your responsibilities to include more collaboration with fellow employees. Learn how to be a problem solver and successfully implement your ideas into your sphere of influence. As a decisive worker that makes your job better along with those around you, you make yourself a valuable part of any organization.

Learn to embrace automation

Another tactic you may think of implementing is to not always fight back against automation but to embrace it. Automation is unlikely to take over entire jobs but rather pieces of them, so learning how to implement automation to help you get better at your job brings a lot of value to the table (that you are willing to work with technology, not against it). Incorporating new tech like cloud services or flash storage can help you keep up to date with the latest advances as well, keeping you well prepared for what’s to come in the near future.

The looming automation invasion shouldn’t intimidate or frighten you. Instead, you should work with the changing times, improving your skills that will keep you noticed above what computers can do. The trick to this strategy is to always stay relevant. Make yourself invaluable and irreplaceable. Learning to adapt will be a key ingredient in avoiding having computers take over your profession.

Rick Delgado
Rick Delgado is a freelance technology writer and commentator. Connect with him on Twitter @ricknotdelgaldo.

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