There has always been a fear for future jobs being lost to automation and other technological advancements. That fear used to be relegated to occupations like customer service and manufacturing. Now, the game has changed. Parents who push their children toward previously solid careers in medicine, law, and accounting may be setting them up for a fall.


The 21st-century tech revolution will be unlike previous industrial revolutions by changing or eliminating positions up and down the occupational ladder.

Unfortunately, we’re unprepared for a cultural shift that will redefine how we view education and work. Our children will be the ones who suffer the consequences if we don’t help them prepare for the changes ahead.


One of the first hints that even some white collar jobs might be endangered came in 2007, when Reuters introduced a robot into their newsroom. They now routinely rely on algorithms to generate reporting and headlines that follow predictable patterns.

The Associated Press recently introduced artificial intelligence (AI) to handle their corporate earnings and sports reports. It isn’t just reporters who are feeling the ripple effects from the advent of machine learning. Microsoft created an Excel macro environment that can perform stock market analysis and reporting with greater speed and precision than a human analyst.

Many financial planning firms are already using AI to evaluate investments and market them to their clients directly via mobile apps. Even the bustle and chaos on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange is in danger of being replaced by the quiet whir of machinery running automated trading software.

Financial careers and journalism aren’t the only occupations where professionals may be battling robotic hordes for job opportunities in the near future. Let’s look at how technology will affect other white collar careers.


The easiest thing in the world for parents and guidance counselors to do is tell kids that success is theirs if they get an MBA, go to medical school, or become a lawyer. While jobs in STEM fields, law, and accounting will still need to be filled, they’ll be more specialized in the future and there will also be fewer of them to go around.

Many of the remaining career opportunities in other white-collar professions will be in supervisory or business development roles. Support positions like paralegals, analysts, and clerical workers will be almost entirely automated within the next decade. JP Morgan already uses a software program that can perform in seconds what it previously took a staff of legal aids 360,000 man hours to do.

Who needs a law clerk to pour over case files one at a time when big data can read tens of thousands and compile them by almost any metric in a matter of minutes? In the medical field, machine learning algorithms consistently outperform trained pathologists and radiologists at interpreting medical imagery.

“We can expect a 38 percent loss of jobs to technological advances by 2030”

Automated systems don’t just perform analytical tasks faster and with more accuracy than people. They also cut down on the potential for human error and fraud or other white collar crimes, which is a very attractive incentive for business owners.

The risk from automated systems isn’t unique to the United States, either. While we can expect a 38 percent loss of jobs to technological advances by 2030, other industrial-based societies like Germany and the UK are also in danger of seeing job loss percentages in the low- to mid-30s within the next 10 years.


Public education systems have spent decades preparing students for lives as producers, as cogs in the machine. It is something that Charlie Chaplin satirized nearly a century ago in his film, Modern Times.

Creativity and critical thinking have been suppressed or set aside as the focus has shifted to test scores, mandates, and percentile rankings. If innovators and stand-outs broke free of the pack, they were the exception and not the norm.

Technology education is seen as enrichment instead of a core, essential skill, and budget cuts cause arts programs to be slashed first. In many school districts, even most children’s favorite “class”, recess, has been reduced or eliminated entirely to give more time over to cramming facts and figures into developing brains. In college, Liberal Arts graduates are seen as having no ambition or future prospects.

“Develop their individuality”


The paradox of our children’s futures is that the more business processes become unified, codified, and replicated, the greater the need to develop our individuality. The answer to not being replaced by machinery is to become as little like a machine as possible.

“Governments and public education institutions seem unwilling or unable to facilitate progress. “

That’s the opposite of what current school curricula teach. Schools are still focused on training kids for the past, which will leave many of them unemployable in the not-so-distant future. Governments, out of fear for accusations of social engineering and a near-mania for fiscal austerity, are exacerbating the situation.

Governments and public education institutions seem unwilling or unable to facilitate progress. That leaves independent and alternative education programs, private entities, and parents to pick up the slack.

Private schools and education systems like Montessori are already doing a lot to focus on self-directed learning and helping kids develop real-world future skills, but the tuition to attend these institutions is out of reach for many parents.


This also means a greater loss of potential for diverse, under-served communities whose kids don’t have access to technology and advanced educational opportunities. There are literally thousands of jobs in the world today. How can you know which jobs are safe from automated practices?

According to ABC News, professions that deal with people won’t be severely impacted by the technological world. There’s a push for the private-sector to invest human rather than business capital by providing funding to retrain current labor forces in danger of being winnowed out.

There’s also growing support for education to veer toward fostering the adaptive skills that will be needed in the future. We just have to get politics and special interests out of the way first.

“There’s also growing support for education to veer toward fostering the adaptive skills that will be needed in the future. We just have to get politics and special interests out of the way first.”


We should be looking at areas where machines can’t keep up with people. Toward the so-called soft skills, and in career training that leans heavily on promoting adaptability.

One researcher, Marty Neumeier, calls them “meta-skills” that are based in design thinking. This is another way of saying kids should learn from an early age to visualize solutions and think outside of the box as a matter of course.

His theories consist of five components that build upon each other:

– Feeling, which relates to developing empathy, emotional intelligence (EQ), and social skills
– Seeing, which Neumeier defines as systematic thinking ability
– Dreaming in an applied manner
– Making, by bringing the other elements into a concrete form
– Learning, by developing new skills and putting them into action

“kids should learn from an early age to visualize solutions and think outside of the box as a matter of course.”


Other researchers agree that the key to employment viability in the future is to develop skills and abilities that allow workers to remain flexible and adaptive to change, that require creativity, and that emphasises collaboration over individual achievement.

The biggest risk will be to those who are not in a position to adapt and shift quickly. We used to train for one career that we will keep until retirement.

Now, we need to develop a multitude of skills that could be suitable for any number of occupations or work environments. There also needs to be a society-wide shift in how we view education and work.

Human touch Preparing today's children for tomorrow.


It’s funny what technology can do. There are now electronic confessionals that allow those among us who are so inclined to seek absolution from a drop-down menu. But, where will you turn when you need advice that only someone who understands the nuances of human emotion and frailty can provide?

Not all of our life experiences can be addressed through a list of pre-designated options. Life just isn’t that predictable, sterile, or neatly packaged. Sometimes, we need to hear a human voice on the other end of the phone or see a smiling face behind the service desk.

The fact is, for almost every technical advancement, there’s another, more human part of the equation that can be developed. We might be amused at first by a robotic receptionist who greets us in the lobby. But, when the novelty of technological innovation wears off, we’re going to take our mental health issues, legal problems, and loved ones needing care to a human being who’s trained to help.


While smart algorytms, neural networks and big data might replace legal aids, it will also provide attorneys with more time to personalize their services and build client relationships. Medical professionals can give more of their time and compassion to healing and allow technology to handle the testing and analysis.

The health care industry can become more efficient, with earlier, more accurate diagnoses that will improve outcomes and save lives. Financial analysts can provide clients with more reliable information that’s truly individualized to their lifestyles and goals.


Future jobs will depend on automation to keep up with the demands of increasing populations across the globe. While this will diminish opportunities for lower skilled occupations, it won’t entirely (at least in the foreseeable future) displace jobs or people who love to work with their hands.

At this time, there are still things even the cleverest robots can’t do, and flexibility is needed in non-routine blue-collar fields like plumbing where outcomes can be unpredictable.

The role of technology in society should be to improve our quality of life, increase efficiency and productivity in the manufacturing and service sectors, and free up our time for more creative and human pursuits.

“Whether your collar is blue, pink, or white, redefining your career goals and diversifying your skills will be essential to the viability of nearly all occupations in the future.”

We will always need innovators, we will always need the human side of public relations, and we will always need the loving touch of a compassionate care-giver.

Robotics and AI can allow greater accuracy in diagnostics and predictable functions that require mechanical precision and speed. Removing those skills from the job description will allow human workers to improve the quality and meaning of their contribution.

We all want to see our children succeed in careers that are fulfilling and lucrative. Technological progress in the 21st century is genderless and color blind.

Whether your collar is blue, pink, or white, redefining your career goals and diversifying your skills will be essential to the viability of nearly all occupations in the future.


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