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McKinsey: Half of All Jobs Could Be Automated By 2055

McKinsey: Half of All Jobs Could Be Automated By 2055

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, January 23 6:00

The never-ending talent shortage in the I.T. field could be a problem in future generations, according to the latest McKinsey Global Institute Report. The report reveals that by the year 2055, half of all of the worldwide jobs done by humans today could be automated.

What does this mean for younger generations? As high school students ponder potential college majors, they consider careers in law, healthcare, and business. While there are some students who set their sights on tech careers, the number doesn t equal the ever-increasing demand. Here are a few things to know about McKinsey s projections for future workforces.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Robots have always been limited by their lack of reasoning and emotion. Developers can direct a piece of software to execute commands, but automation has always been limited to human programming. With machine learning, though, software gathers data on its environment, gradually adjusting its behaviors to match what it learns. Machine learning falls under the larger umbrella of artificial intelligence, which will likely be built into many of the devices and products used by businesses and consumers.

Although the McKinsey Report estimates that few occupations could be completely automated, almost every occupation has partial automation potential. Many jobs are already seeing dramatic productivity improvements thanks to software, including accounting, inventory management, and fulfillment. McKinsey projects that approximately half of all activities that people are paid to do today could be automated with technologies that are already available today. Overall, McKinsey sees that this would save about $16 trillion in wages. Workers may not be completely replaced, in other words, but they could see their teams dwindle to half their current size or less.

The Right Jobs

Does this mean that every job will be replaced? No. In fact, McKinsey finds some jobs lend themselves to automation more than others. Those include tasks that are physical in nature and also located in a structured, predictable environment. Experts believe that the jobs most likely to be automated are transportation and logistics, office and administrative work, and production-type labor. However, machine learning could mean that jobs that rely more heavily on perception and manipulation become candidates for automation.

Even among I.T. professionals, it will be increasingly important that professionals are steered toward careers that will be in demand in an automation era. There continues to be a data analyst shortage, and the need for professionals in this occupation are expected remain high in the coming years. There is also a large demand for software developers with machine learning skills, and opportunities will continue to be available for those who choose those careers. IT security professionals will always be in demand, as well. Students entering college today have the option of taking courses in these specialties, while those who already work in the field can only learn them on the job or take specialized courses in their free time.

While automation won t take over many of these jobs overnight, it s important that professionals in all fields prepare themselves for the future of the workplace. In doing so, they ll be able to ensure they remain relevant even as more duties are automated.

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