May 4, 2017
As alarm grows in some circles over the impact of technology on future job prospects, a new survey suggests that Millennial’s jobs are likely to be at lower risk of automation. Research into how different generations choose jobs by jobs site Indeed compared the online search patterns of millions of UK jobseekers over the six months to March and found that younger people are substantially more likely to choose roles deemed to be at lower risk of automation. Nearly half of younger jobseekers were drawn to automation-resistant jobs, compared to fewer than four in 10 over-50s. These baby boomers are two thirds more likely than millennials to seek the manual jobs at highest risk of automation. While nearly half of millennials (48 percent) were searching for what economists term ‘non-routine’ roles, 61.1 percent of baby boomers were looking for ‘routine’ jobs. Routine jobs – which include sales, admin, transport and construction roles – are seen as being at higher risk of automation than non-routine work, which includes management, professional and service roles.
Economists regard routine jobs as the most prone to automation because they tend to involve high levels of repetition – which machines can master more easily than roles which focus on human interaction and behaviour.
The generational split is even more acute when you compare roles at the two ends of the automation risk spectrum. More than a third (34 percent) of searches by baby boomers were for routine manual jobs – the type facing the highest threat of automation – compared to barely a fifth of millennials, who were 67 percent less likely to be searching for such jobs.
By contrast, 30 percent of millennials were found to be searching for non-routine, cognitive work such as management and professional roles – the least likely to be automated – compared to just 22 percent of baby boomers.
Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, comments: “Automation in the workplace is understandably a sensitive subject for many people. Technology continues to reshape not just the way we work but also the number and type of jobs that are available.
“Of course, no generation of jobseekers is completely doomed. Automation is a process, not a single event, and technological progress is going to impact different occupations at different times.
“Disappearing jobs can be a frightening concept and it’s impossible to know exactly which jobs are ‘safe’ — but everyone can prepare for the future by building up transferable, non-routine skills that can be applied across a wide array of occupations.”