Advances in technology and globalization will make many jobs obsolete in the coming years. In the 21st century, automation is impacting almost all industries, creating more efficient ways of doing things that have proven to be quicker, safer and more cost-effective. Companies have adapted to these changes by retraining their workforce to thrive in an automated environment, eliminating jobs that have been rendered irrelevant and unnecessary in the process. Here is a sampling of some jobs that may become obsolete at some point.
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A career in the travel industry was once highly desirable because it offered travel perks, discounts, and opportunities to experience other cultures. Travel agents have been eliminated in the booking process as airlines, hotels and other travel companies have fully automated their reservations systems. Customers can book directly and make changes to their reservations on company websites or through online systems managed by third-party providers. Some travel agent positions may remain for luxury travel planning, but for the most part, this is a profession that is declining rapidly.
Farmers and Farm Workers
It isn’t likely that all food production will soon be managed by machines, so there will always be farmers, but their jobs will change from manual labor to being the operator of automated equipment. Agricultural machinery and equipment are at the forefront of advances in technology and early adoption of automated systems. The use of machines driven by artificial intelligence technology has reduced the number of farmhands needed for traditional jobs such as planting, weeding, and harvesting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates zero growth in the demand for farmers between 2016 and 2026.
The need for human bank tellers will decline as financial institutions move to fully digital and fully automated systems. Some banks have strengthened their online business by providing ways for customers to conduct their banking business online, including making deposits, reviewing accounts and applying for special services such as loans. For services that cannot be accomplished online, such as cash withdrawals, banks provide full-service automated teller machines in strategic locations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a decline of 8 percent for bank teller jobs between 2016 and 2026.
Mail processing has been semi-automated for some time, but the demand for traditional mail services has declined as the public has shifted to digital communications through email, text and various social media platforms. Businesses have given customers the option for paperless statements and online notifications through the same digital services. As a result, the post office has been pushing to cut down on daily delivery of mail, which would decimate the number of postal worker positions even more. BLS estimates a 13 percent decline in postal worker jobs in the 2016-2026 period.
The need for on-demand car service is expected to grow due to an aging population even as the younger generation eschew costly car ownership for taxi services. As companies like Uber and Lyft have shown, the future of this industry is in apps that facilitate access to car services using mobile devices. Today, calling a cab means signing into an app and making the arrangements, including paying for the fare, on the app itself. All of these transactions can be completed without going through a dispatcher, and the pool of drivers receive their assignments through the app as well.
Many jobs will become obsolete due to technology because businesses have no choice if they wish to survive in an app-enabled, automation-dependent world. According to a report from CNBC.com, the use of AI-enabled technologies will eliminate about 6 percent of jobs by 2021. It is important for students, workers, and professionals to be aware of the impact of technology on their industry and realign their career goals as needed.