Automation May Murder 10 Percent of Jobs Next Year: Forrester

Automation will kill some 10 percent of U.S. jobs in 2019, according to a new report from analyst firm Forrester. (For those unable to access the report, VentureBeat also has a succinct breakdown.)

Analytics, chatbots, and robotics are streamlining company processes, while reducing the need for flesh-and-blood customer service agents and other kinds of employees. At least one analyst, Citi’s Mark May, is pointing to Amazon’s reduction of seasonal hiring as evidence of automation winnowing down demand for warehouse workers.

(In an email to Quartz, an Amazon spokesperson defended the company’s use of robotics by saying that it had added 300,000 jobs over the past six years: “It’s a myth that automation replaces jobs and destroys net job growth.”)

Even as intelligent software taketh away, the study added, it will also giveth, by creating the equivalent of 3 percent of the current job stock. Indeed, widespread automation has boosted the need for many kinds of tech pros, including app builders, machine-learning specialists, and robotics experts. After all, someone needs to build these new technology platforms.

Forrester isn’t the only organization that believes A.I. will have a seismic effect on the job market in coming years. For example, an October report by the World Economic Forum suggested that machines will take over more than half of the world’s current workplace functions by 2025; the group based that conclusion on a survey of executives at companies in 12 industries.

Like Forrester, the World Economic Forum believes that employers will gradually re-train workers for the next iteration of the professional world. “While nearly 50 percent of all companies expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation,” the organization added in a note accompanying its data, “almost 40 percent expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise.”

For tech pros concerned about the impact of automation on their jobs, there’s one key thing to keep in mind: By continually upgrading your skills, you can bend the odds of continued employment in your favor. Learning more about machine learning and A.I. will also help as more businesses embrace these technologies (and fortunately, a number of companies and organizations offer helpful tutorials online).

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