Ten jobs that can’t be computerised

New technology is creating new work roles, but others could eventually become obsolete or automated out of existence. So is your job safe? We seek out the ten jobs that will always need a real person to carry them out.

As we’ve explored, this is a job market in which the types of skills businesses need and the prized talent they are competing over are changing. More than one in 20 workers in Britain (10% in London) have job titles that didn’t exist in 1990 according to a study carried out at Oxford University, the great majority of these created by the digital revolution.

The increasing power and generally lowering cost of technology means that even relatively small companies can use digital distribution and marketing to reach mass markets or even develop whole new business models. You only need to look at the success of enterprises such as accommodation network Airbnb, or taxi app Uber, to see how quickly new models can take hold if they give customers greater choice and convenience for less.

Yet in many ways the most far-reaching developments centre on automation and robotics. Old style assembly lines are now a thing of the past in car-making, for example, as many areas of production are taken over by robots. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is now bringing the tide of automation into office and professional work. Vocations such as client administration, insurance underwriting and even medicine could all undergo increasing automation in the coming years, creating what for many organisations will be a hybrid AI and human workforce.

Can it be automated?

Some work is easier to automate than others. The Oxford research team analysed 702 jobs and rated them between ‘highly unlikely to be computerised’ and ‘highly susceptible to being computerised’. The researchers examined a variety of factors to gauge whether a computer would be able to carry out the required tasks or whether distinctive human capabilities are still vital, ranging from the need for manual dexterity and artistic originality to complex social perception and emotional support.

So here are the ten jobs most likely to eventually be replaced by a computer (no timescale is given):

1.  telemarketer

2.  title examiner

3.  hand sewers

4. mathematical technicians

5. insurance underwriters

6. watch repairers

7.  cargo and freight agents

8.  tax return preparers

9.  photographic process workers

10.  accounts clerks.

Jobs further down the list, but still with a more than 90% chance of being taken over by machines include accountants, waiters and receptionists.

So for anyone thinking of switching to a less susceptible career, here are the ten least computerisable jobs:

1.  recreational therapist

2.  supervisor of mechanics and repairers

3.  managing directors

4.  mental health workers

5.  audiologists (working with people with impaired hearing)

6. occupational therapists

7.  prosthetists (designs and fits artificial limbs)

8.  social workers

9.  oral surgeons

10.  firefighters.

In a list of ‘safe’ jobs dominated by health and social care professionals, it will be a relief to HR, training and development managers that they are in the top 30 of the posts most unlikely to be taken over by a machine. Also looking fairly safe are sales and marketing managers.

A full copy of the report is available from www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/ downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf