Almost every kid out there has been asked this question “what do you want to be when you grow up” I personally I don’t get the relevance of this question because majority of adults don’t even know who they are yet we seem to expect kids to know

Anyway, that’s beside the point of this article. The sad reality is that for many children, due to social conditioning or parental control, some of their answers will involve a career that’s on this list of dying professions.

In many ways, the future is already here. The impact of AI over the next decade is expected to completely transform the business landscape, and no industry or profession will be left untouched.

Businesses around the globe are incorporating artificial intelligence, robotics and self service checkouts into their operations to cut costs and improve efficiencies. Automation is free from human biases and this is where the world is heading. Major companies and big corporations are going to employ fewer people to get a lot more done with more precision and better quality.

With the rise of automation, some fields, especially within white collar jobs are slowly becoming threatened. In time, some of these careers may even become completely obsolete. But there will always be plenty of opportunities out there (note I said “opportunities” not jobs).

There will always be problems to solve, things to fix, and services to provide. However, the demand has already begun shrinking for certain professions and will continue to do so in the coming years. These jobs may not completely disappear overnight, but they are already in a state of decline

In my Book, titled: Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, I mentioned that:

“Until now the jobs that were most vulnerable to machines were those that involved routine, repetitive tasks. But thanks to the exponential rise in technology, computers are increasingly able to perform even complex tasks more cheaply and effectively than humans. At this point automation cannot be terminated. No one can put the genie back in the bottle”

And so, in no particular order, the following are some dying professions you should avoid or proceed with caution:

  1. Cashiers
Image by Maxime Fro from Pixabay

The retail industry is increasingly turning to automated machines to reduce labor costs, meaning the man or woman at the till will soon not be needed. Advances in technology, such as the use of self-service checkout at retail stores and increasing online shopping are our new realities.

For many business owners, this is good news because computers don’t steal from their employers or try to manipulate the system or come late to work. Unlike humans, machines are reliable and trustworthy.

2. Call Centre Agents

There is significant change already happening in this industry. A lot of conversation is going on about the future of call centers and it’s unlikely to be a physical ‘center’ anymore as digital technologies and AI chatbots are swooping in and replacing humans in this industry.

According to Tech Invest Magazine, “The Chatbot Market is projected to grow from $2.6billion in 2019 to $9.6billion by 2024.”

A case in point is that of Multichoice — a satellite television service here in South Africa. In 2019, Multichoice announce plans to lay off about 2500 call centre agents.

The company said the reason for the retrenchment was “Customers are increasingly moving away from traditional voice calls and visits to physical centres and are now adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company.”

So, this wasn’t even about the call centre agents not being competent but because people prefer doing things online.

3. IT Support

These are also known as system or server administrators. Technology-based jobs are booming right now and the general advice seems to be that if you have some experience or skills in tech, then you’re safe but that’s not entirely true because Artificial Intelligence isn’t only replacing low skill labour but also more complex jobs.

With so much of computing becoming cloud-based, the general IT person who patrolled the office is becoming less and less relevant in today’s workforce. This change is already happening across different industries. Last year, Standard bank South Africa cut over 500 IT jobs.

Screenshot Image

4. Middle Managers

For anyone, a little confused by this one, these are essentially Middle Management Positions. They are the people who sit between the senior and junior managers. Typically, they’re the ones who usually handle paperwork and act as a channel of communication within an organization, but the paper-pushing done by middle managers is increasingly being done by enterprise software like Oracle or Salesforce. If you are a middle manager, perhaps you should start focusing more on revenue-producing functions like client relationships or new product development.

5. Lawyers

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

This may probably be the biggest surprise on this list and some people may protest. But here me out. I believe the world will always need lawyers but a lot of the work they do or used to do is quickly being taken over by technology. Work once done by case researchers can now be done with increasingly sophisticated algorithms.

There is an App called DONOTPAY, considered to be the World’s First Robot Lawyer. The App was developed in the UK and it offers AI-powered legal counsel, Fight corporations, beat bureaucracy and can sue anyone at the press of a button.

This Robot mines documents and offers solutions based on a series of simple questions that it asks. You could become a plaintiff on the strength of the documents that it draws up from your answers. Imagine how many more apps like this will continue to emerge in future.

6. Financial Planners

The biggest digital revolution is happening in the finance industry. It’s now easier than ever for people to access the financial market as well as access their personal accounts and see how their own portfolios without a third party.

Tasks once performed by low-level retail financial planners are quickly being outsourced to planning software and apps like robo-advisors and investing algorithms.

According to Investopedia: “Robo-advisors are likely to be employed by every firm in one capacity or another. In 10 years, they will likely be able to follow very sophisticated strategies that employ a measure of judgment regarding buy and sell market decisions.”

7. Bankers/Bank Tellers

When last did you go to the bank? Probably not very often, right? Nowadays, most banking transactions are being carried via smart phones and that’s exactly what spells trouble for the some bankers and bank tellers.

A brick-and-mortar banking system isn’t going to be around for long. New technologies are drastically changing the banking industry in the front, middle, and back office. AI and automation are proving to be valuable in ways never thought possible. The customers is now being put at the center of every strategy and this means the bank’s priority is the customer not the employee.

If the customer says I don’t want to stand in those queues anymore and the bank teller says I need my job, I’m the only bread winner in the family, am a single Mom/Dad and so on. Whose request do you think the bank will grant. Exactly my point!

Artificial intelligence and other technological advancements will cause lots of jobs in the banking industry to become redundant, this is already happening and will only get worse. Banks are going digital and increasingly needing fewer and fewer physical branches. As a result, more people in the banking industry will lose their jobs.

Take Standard bank for example, one of Africa’s biggest banks, they closed 91 branches in South Africa. This is not to say that banks will be completely run by robots. No. this is to create awareness of the shift and the decline of certain roles within the financial industry.

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8. Fast Food Cooks

The promise of new technologies is that it will make routine and low-paying jobs obsolete. And nothing is more symbolic of the bottom of the employment food chain than fast food cooks, which is one of the few jobs on this list that require less than a high school certificate. This is because Fast food is increasingly becoming an automated industry.

The owners of fast food chains find it cheaper to prepare food off-site and simply have employees reheat it in their stores. That was unthinkable 10years ago in most fast food businesses, but food technology has advanced to the point where the microwaved version doesn’t really lack the flavor of the cooked-on-site version.

9. Door-to-Door Salesperson

I think this one is obvious and will be quite a relief to some people who are happy they won’t have to deal with a salesman knocking at the door. Online advertising is far more efficient than having someone brave the elements of electric fencing, over-protective dogs to knock at someone’s door.

And so, for the digital nomads in the house who may be wondering what am talking about, Well, door to door is a business canvassing technique that is generally used for sales, marketing or advertising in which someone walks from the door of one house to the door of another, trying to sell or advertise a product or service to the general public. And because of online advertising, there is no future in this profession.

10. Detectives

Dear Detective, looks like you might have to find yourself a new career. The rise of surveillance camera’s, spyware, and DNA databanks make it easier to solve crimes. This means that police work in the future might focus more on criminal rehabilitation and reducing re-offense, and less on solving actual crimes. This also means the suspicious wifey industry will no longer need a private investigator to know if husband is cheating…I’m just saying…

11. Accountants

Photo by Javier Reyes on Unsplash

The conversation around the future of the accounting profession is a controversial one as they are different schools of thought about the future of this profession. Some say Accountants will always be here while others say their days are numbered. Whatever your views are, the reality is that technologies like AI, internet of things (IoT), blockchain and cloud computing are disrupting traditional accounting.

As with all major evolutions, the change within accounting will not happen all at once but its already happening. Many businesses now have the choice of whether or not to use an accounting software or a human accountant. This choice did not exist before and as technology continue to advance, businesses will be presented with even more apps and software to choose from.

According to the Future of Jobs Report 2018, there is accelerating demand for data analysts and scientists, big data specialists, digital transformation specialists, and information technology services. This is good news for Accountant who want to upskill themselves and transition because Accountants have the behaviors and competencies that overlap with these future in-demand roles

12. Bookkeepers

Similar to accounting, bookkeeping is also in ICU. These are the people who keep the financial books for companies. They record transactions and make sure financial records are accurate. Traditional bookkeeping is on its way out. Cloud or web-based apps and artificial intelligence are becoming the new norm for businesses. Sites like QuickBooks and Receipt Bank can automatically download your bank account information and prepare your books and even file your tax returns.

13. Switchboard Operators

Once again, blame technology for the impending doom in this industry. Texting, voice mail and other AI-enhanced systems are making switchboard operators obsolete even sooner than projected. There are already businesses that are using Amazon’s Alexa to direct phone calls to the right recipients.

14. Mortgage Brokers

Technology is rapidly changing the property finance industry just like other industries and there is a real concern whether Mortgage Brokers are going extinct, thanks to online brokers like Rocket Mortgage and Guaranteed Rate that make getting an online quote as easy as ABC. With AI, blockchain and automation in the game, there’s plenty to think about when it comes to the road ahead for lenders.

And then there are millennials, the digital nomads, the generation that is growing up doing everything online. These are the home buyers of the future and their buying habits as well as digital habits does make the outlook for mortgage brokers look bleak.

15. Primary Care Physicians

Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

Primary care physician are those you go to for Routine diagnosis but wearable tech and digital tools are now changing doctor to patient relationship. Patients are starting to shift from being passive to being active participants in their own diagnosis thanks to advances in technology.

We are starting to see a shape rise in apps for self-diagnosis. There are smart personal wearable devices that can count calories, measure body fat, record physical activities and make medical decision-making. Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are learning to interpret Xrays, MRIs, and other images just as a radiologist does today.

An example of this is IBM’s Watson — a supercomputer that thrives on working with, and learning from, massive amounts of data. Most of these are still at their infancy but the trend is growing. The Health and Fitness industry is the perfect place to look for these trends.

Since Artificial Intelligence systems can diagnose illnesses, the alternative for most doctors will be to spend less time diagnosing illnesses and more time on addressing human factors that produce better wellness outcomes: counseling for obesity, addiction, performance coaching, or addressing urgent conditions like emergency room doctors.

Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t about to completely replace doctors anytime soon, but there is already a shift in healthcare and exponential change in the day-to-day work of many physicians.

16. Nurses

Technological advancements is drastically changing the structure of the healthcare industry. There is already a robotic revolution happening in healthcare wherein robots have made tasks and procedures more efficient and safer.

Nursing today is not the same as it was 20 years ago. From technological advancements such as robotic-assisted surgery which could one day replace surgeons and nurses in the operating rooms to humanoid nurse robots which have the possibility of replacing human nurses in hospital wards.

There are also companion robots that are designed to provide useful and socially acceptable assistance to people who need special attention like the elderly and the disabled as well as automated dispensing robots which can administer medication to patients.

17. Farm Workers

Imagine a robotic tractor driving along rows of tomato plants, with a snip-snip sound as weeds are cut away. Another robot machine drives along rows of fruits trees picking fruits ready for harvest.

A drone hovers over a field, looking for signs of disease in crops. In the feedlot of castles, implanted sensors show which cattle are thriving and which are eating less. From a laptop in the comfort of his home or office, the farm’s manager checks data flowing in on crops and livestock, he checks what needs to be done and what needs attention at that moment, and this is not imagination but the future of farming.

The profession of farm workers is declining and It’s not because people are eating less, but because new technologies in agriculture are getting more efficient and farmers are replacing workers with machinery and getting bigger yields out of smaller plots of land.

According to the United Nations, “The world’s population is expected to grow by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and we will need to produce 70 percent more food.” And with advancement in tech, this food might not be produced by humans.

There is already food being produce using 3D printing technology. Future agriculture will use sophisticated high-tech solutions such as temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, an army of robots and GPS technology to grow crops. Farm workers of the future won’t need to show up for work with a shovel but with a laptop, and other smart devices. This calls for upskilling and training of traditional farm workers who’ll be privilege in future to find jobs in the agricultural sector.

18. Administrative Assistants

Artificial intelligence is set to play a greater role in office administration. The responsibilities of Admin job holders like Executive Assistants, Personal assistant and Receptionist usually includes correspondence duties like typing memos, making phone calls, managing diaries, organizing meetings and appointments. In most cases they act as the first point of contact, controlling access to a manager, an executive or CEO (hence they are also known as gatekeepers).

Another key area of administrative assistants’ duties includes booking and arranging travel, transportation as well as making accommodation reservations. But Artificial intelligence can do nearly all of above tasks. There are many Apps and systems with just a click of a button already existing that can take over some of the duties of an administrative Assistant.

For example, Voice recognition typing software can be used to send messages without Admins/PAs involvement. Voice recognition has replaced the need to type just about anything. Artificial Intelligence not only records the words spoken, but also optimizes grammar and can also translates into any language in real time.

19. Travel Agent

With the prevalence of online agencies and booking sites, this is a career that is already on the decline and is projected to keep shrinking. These days, people simply book their own travel or vacations online. Thanks to online travel booking sites like booking.com or cheap flights, everyone is their own personal travel agent these days.

There’s some predictions that they might be an increase in the need for specialized travel agents who are experts in specific destinations or particular niche of travelers, like corporate, those seeking to study abroad or travelers over 55 years and above.

20. Taxi Drivers and Truck Drivers

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Okay, personally I think we still have a good long way before we see human drivers out of the car especially for a continent like Africa. But that is not the case for the develop world. Automated cars are on the rise and many taxi drivers and truck drivers in the develop world stand to lose their jobs.

The LA Times estimates that five million jobs will be lost to self-driving cars in the coming years.

21. Electronic Equipment Installers

Electronic equipment installers basically installs electronic equipment, test to ensure that the equipment is working correctly and also repair defective equipment parts. The issue here is that over the years electrical systems have become better and better and don’t really require maintenance anymore. These days many people prefer to just watch a Youtube video and do things themselves rather than hiring someone to do it for them.

This is not to say these jobs aren’t still necessary for the time being, just that the job market and demand are declining. So, if you’re looking for a more secure future, these are just several professions I’ll advice you think twice about getting into.

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