The ability to adapt to changing circumstances is something that humankind has mastered over eons. Our workforce is one of the fields where we have proven to be particularly resourceful. From the dawn of mankind we have been forced into changing our work habits; from hunter-gatherers to farmers and the industrial revolution to the relocation of our manufacturing industries, it has been part and parcel of our existence.
We are right now in the middle of perhaps the biggest change we have ever seen. The information age has brought with it many benefits. But with it came computerization and robotics that have already seen many traditional jobs replaced. It is only just beginning as well. Many more jobs are set to disappear soon, some are predicted to be all but gone within four years. For people in these careers, job security is a thing of the past and many of these people are setting up their own businesses instead.
If you are currently employed in a vulnerable industry, now might be as good a time as any to get that dream business up and running. Here is a list of some of the jobs that are likely to disappear in the next four years.
10) Postal Workers
While there is an increase in parcel deliveries that will ensure couriers have some form of employment for at least a few years (until drone and other automation takes over), the outlook for the postal worker is bleak. Letters are already a footnote of history. Whatever had to be done by letter can now be electronically. There will always be a niche for delivering items like birthday and Christmas cards, but this is a dwindling business that will employ a tiny fraction of the staff currently employed.
I originally hail from a town where the main industry was fishing. Each night I could go down to the harbor and watch the boats come in, laden down with their catch. Now, when I return home the harbor is full of yachts and the front is thronged with tourists. Cheap imports, overfishing, and the emergence of fish-farming have all but destroyed the fishing industry, and it’s a trend that is set to continue.
Globalization of industry has moved manufacturing away from its traditional heartlands to overseas. With cheaper labor and energy, the cost of shifting to an overseas base is quickly recovered by the savings that are made.
A dwindling manufacturing base as the few remaining companies are forced to do the same or go under by not being able to compete on the marketplace means whatever few jobs remain are likely to soon head overseas.
7) Secretaries and Administrative Staff
One of the areas where technology is becoming extremely prevalent is in this field. Artificial intelligence, remote access and cloud computing are taking over. More people are working from home and using software that organizes their workload and takes the place of all those office managers and secretaries that used to ensure the smooth day-to-day running of an organization. Administrative staff are being increasingly marginalized by technology.
It is ironic that one of the supporting industries that many of the fisher folk turned to in my hometown was the forestry industry that was active in the surrounding area. Now that too is in jeopardy. Pulp mills that once took whole harvests to feed the insatiable paper requirements of the world have all but shut down. With the coming of the paperless office and the online press, world demand for paper has slumped.
Then there are the environmental concerns, our forests are becoming protected as we aim to reduce our carbon footprint.
It doesn’t seem that long ago I saw my first automated check out in my local supermarket. Recently, the same shop underwent a refurbishment and for the first time I saw a shop where the automated checkouts outnumbered the manual ones. With the increasing adoption of a cashless society where all people have to do is wave their phones to pay, this is a trend that isn’t going to change.
4) Bank Tellers
The days of banks having a branch in each town is already long gone. These days over 70% of bank transactions are online, and there are now companies offering banking services with no physical presence at all. A few larger branches will exist for the foreseeable future, but for most bank tellers the future of their jobs is bleak.
3) Travel Agents
I’m showing my age if I tell you that as a youngster one highlight of my year was pouring over the travel brochures that my parents used to have delivered each year. Remember them? Exactly. They are already a thing of the past, as is that trip down to the local travel agent to book your holiday. Of course, a global pandemic hasn’t helped here, but it is only accelerating a trend that was already set-in stone.
Organizing a taxi service used to be a complex task that involved knowledge of all the streets and routes within a town and an ongoing record of all your taxis whereabouts. Now you just tap into your app and the nearest available taxi will appear in a few minutes without any human interaction. Already a niche job, this is one career that will be completely gone in a few years.
The days of being able to insult that pesky telemarketer are drawing to a close. These days you can have complete conversations that are seamless and driven by artificial intelligence. Soon you will only be able to insult a machine as it tries to tell you how inefficient your existing window installation is.
While this may all sound like a tale of doom and gloom, remember that this has happened right through history. And if looked at as an opportunity, then it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. If you are currently employed in a vulnerable industry, now may well be the time to set that inner entrepreneur free!
What other industries are rapidly disappearing before our eyes? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.