Jobs on the chopping block: Workers worry about vanishing roles

by Janie Smith28 Jul 2014
If Hollywood blockbusters are to be believed, HR may be employing robots instead of people for future jobs.
It seems that Australian workers have concerns about technology taking over, with a quarter of them expecting their jobs to disappear due to technological advancements, according to the Randstad Workmonitor survey.
Randstad employment analyst Steve Shepherd said that there were question marks around whether jobs would disappear completely because of technology or whether advancements would allow the job to be done elsewhere just as easily, but with cheaper labour.
“Telstra has announced that they'll send another 600 or so jobs offshore and I think technology enables those kinds of behaviours as well.

“It's also interesting as to whether jobs will disappear or whether they just won't exist in their current format. For example, I don't think the role of farmers will disappear because all of a sudden, machinery and technology takes over. What you see is fewer of them so technology definitely enables you to do more with less, but also I think it then evolves into different skill sets required to do that job.
“The farmer is not relying on manual labour and becomes more of a scientist and a technology expert in order to enable the technology that is being used more and more within that industry. I think it's more about evolving skill sets,” said Shepherd.

While some roles may no longer exist, the technology required to make them obsolete also created new jobs – some of which impacted on the HR profession, he said.
“Everywhere in HR they're talking about data analytics and how you use technology to do things faster and extract more information. HR has traditionally been about the human and social skills and I think you'll see an increase in the analytical side, which is a completely different fish in the pond. The person who enjoys doing that kind of work is probably not the same person who enjoys the social interaction side of what HR has traditionally been.”
However, the “human” part of HR won’t be replaced by technology, according to Shepherd.
“When we're employing people, we're still human beings and that means we want social interaction. Our core is built on being able to interact with people so there will still be this fundamental need to talk to people. There are all these tools that help you screen resumes and all that sort of stuff but at the end of the day, you still want to talk to people and get advice and know what the company is like to work for. You make a decision about who you're going to work with, based on emotion. Technology doesn't allow for that emotional part. We deal based on emotion and human connection.”
How do you think the rise of technology is affecting your workforce?



  • by Evan Nunn 10/08/2014 4:11:31 PM

    Jobs in Australia in administration in particular are being off shored at a rapid rate due to process and systems improvements and the cloud computing environment. This is a fact.
    The government and the professions do not know exactly what is happening and I don't think they have the capability to forecast the outcomes . I contend there is limit to the need for high levels of skilled migration to Australia in administration and support roles as the equation for demand has changed. The main reason for increasing labour supply for skilled and experienced workers in admin or even IT , to physically come to Australia , will be based on putting downward pressure on the labour price for people who need to be here to quality control and schedule work. It won't be due to a supply shortfall now or in the immediate future especially for the basic grind work. Australian business urgently need to look for their recruits and train them from the youth and aged unemployment ranks . If they do, they will save us from the extreme societal pain due to our lack of ability to adjust to global economic reform. Recall the early 1990's when youth crime and youth suicide spiked ?
    The knowledge needed to perform many admin roles is codified and can be imparted and managed on the internet. Eg See the operations of , business model and the growth of freelancers. In the last 10 to 15 years we have trained a lot of very switched on people through Australian uni's and TAFE colleges exporting knowledge in exchange for uni fee income and TAFE fee incomes. Those who have returned to their country's of birth will often be in a position to provide support services back to Australia, effectively and efficiently.
    The difficulty in implementing change and helping people adjust and learn to work with these services is still here with us on the ground in Australia ,so on a positive note for HR people and managers and consultants, those who are good at change management play a valuable role in helping structural reform and change sustain the Australian business models. It is complex and requires a deft hand to integrate remote support services with other internal business processes and sustain customer value chain and relationships at the high standards expected by Australians.

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