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Automation may be coming for your job, report says

Northern Policy Institute predicts retail, admin, counter, cash and driver jobs face automation
The Northern Policy Institute has released a new report on which jobs will eventually be replaced by automation. (Stock photo)

A new report titled “Are Robots Coming for Our Jobs?” suggests that routine manual jobs will be the first to go as technology continues to transform the job market. 

The think tank organization, Northern Policy Institute, said in a news release that the report aims to examine the impact of automation on industries, jobs, income, income distribution, and communities in the North. 

Automation is the process of substituting machines or computers for human labour. Opinions on the technology have been divided with some saying that automation increases productivity and standard of living, while others worry about disruption in the workplace and increased unemployment. 

The report suggests that the impact of automation on industry will be "profound." 

“The majority of job losses [to automation] have been in occupations involving routine tasks such as retail salespersons and cashiers that required a low level of education and skills. Employment in occupations involving non-routine cognitive tasks have indeed increased in all regions,” said Bakhtiar Moazzami, professor of economics and econometrics at Lakehead University. 

Some key findings in the report include: 

  • Few occupations are expected to be fully automated, but many positions will be transformed by new technology. 
  • In Northern Ontario, the share of employment in routine cognitive and routine manual jobs has declined significantly. 
  • 74 per cent of employment in northeastern Ontario and 72.6 per cent in northwestern Ontario are in sectors with relatively low potential for automation.
  • Major shifts have happened in terms of women's distribution of employment and earnings growth in Northern Ontario.

According to the report, the jobs that will be hit hardest include retail salespersons (92 per cent chance of automation), administrative assistants (96 per cent chance of automation), food counter attendants and kitchen staff/helpers (91.5 per cent chance of automation), cashiers (97 per cent chance of automation), and transport truck drivers (79 per cent chance of automation). 

At the other end of the spectrum, the report predicts that retail and wholsesale trade managers, registered nurses, elementary and kindergarten teachers, early childhood educators and assistants, and secondary school teachers will have the lowest chance of being disrupted.