Many Australians with secure careers now, many find themselves heading to one of these within the next decade.
Many Australians with secure careers now, many find themselves heading to one of these within the next decade.

END OF THE LINE: The jobs that will be gone within 10 years

THE digital economy and increasing automation will affect almost half of all jobs, with many careers we take for granted today to disappear by 2028.

That's the conclusion of one of Australia's leading experts in future economic trends, who has said the next decade could bring unprecedented change to the workforce.

And if you assume it's people on low incomes who are most at risk of having their jobs become obsolete, guess again. Both stockbrokers and shelf stackers are in the firing line.

"It's pretty clear that a big chunk of the workforce is in for automation," Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, the principal scientist at Data 61, the government's digital science research unit at the CSIRO, told

Smart staff will be forced to learn new skills to future-proof their careers.

To survive in the workplace, employees will have to act like "entrepreneurs", but - don't worry - Elon Musk is not an business person you need to aspire to be like.

"You won't have to be a billionaire shooting a car off into space" to succeed, Dr Hajkowicz said.

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, a principal scientist with the CSIRO, says many careers are on the line.
Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, a principal scientist with the CSIRO, says many careers are on the line.


Dr Hajkowicz, who described his role as bridging the gap between science and technology, and its ramifications for Australia, is part of panel at Sydney's Vivid Ideas festival in June looking at digital "megatrends" and how they affect people's lives.

"We need to have some idea of what lies ahead so we can solve current and future problems," he said.

Dr Hajkowicz examines "plausible futures" and the prospects for jobs and careers in the decade to come.

To do this, the many thousands of current jobs have been distilled down to 702 "job types" that were judged on how easily they could be automated out of existence.

"Retail (staff) who aren't doing much in terms of direct customer interaction are at a high risk. We looked at the tasks a checkout operator does, such as identify and scan items, and that is all automatable," he said.

"The interaction with customers is not, but 90 per cent of that job is highly automatable."

Cheerio, checkout staff. Picture: Chris Eastman
Cheerio, checkout staff. Picture: Chris Eastman

Dr Hajkowicz said the rise of driverless vehicles would make taxi and Uber drivers redundant, as well as delivery drivers and riders who bring food to your door.

He also pointed to back office staff chiefly involved in transactional roles such as processing driving licences and in banking. Those roles could be done quicker and cheaper by machine not man.

Enjoy driving for Uber, the job will be gone in a decade. Picture: Adam Yip.
Enjoy driving for Uber, the job will be gone in a decade. Picture: Adam Yip.


Australians who are earning a motza might need to think about shoring up their career from the rise of the robot employee.

"People are more fallible than algorithms and with stockbrokers and analysts, a huge amount of their trade is algorithmic," Dr Hajkowicz said.

In addition, he said he was surprised travel agents and insurance brokers still existed.

"I would have thought they would have gone by now but there is an element where it's not a routine solution and it's highly complex," he said.

The more human interaction a job had, and the more complex and creative a task, the more likely it was to survive the oncoming digital decade.

Sales assistants who gave in-depth advice will stick around; the person who sells you a ticket to a film won't.

"Where a job isn't routine, then it is less likely to be automated. The person who installs white goods in your home has to manoeuvre the fridge around that bit of wood that is sticking out and chat to whoever is at home and a robot can't do that," Dr Hajkowicz said.


But as much as technology was taking away jobs, it was also opening up career paths that wouldn't have been possible once.

Staff working in photo labs were all but gone as people were now content to peruse pictures on their phones and laptops, Dr Hajkowicz said. However, there had been a boom in wedding photographers as digital cameras had lowered the bar to entry and opened up the industry.

To succeed people needed to think like entrepreneurs, he said, pointing out that while big business and governments were cutting staff, the major jobs growth was in smaller firms.

"Elon Musk and Richard Branson are not real role models. The reality of entrepreneurialism is it's happening in our everyday lives as people focus on keeping work.

"You don't have to be a billionaire shooting a car into space to be an entrepreneur, it's the mum who couldn't get a job so opened an Italian restaurant."


The future trends soothsayer said the future employee would continue to need the basics - numeracy and literacy.

In addition, an understanding of robotics and coding would become essential.

"Digital literacy means not just being able to use the iPad. It means being able to manipulate and control this powerful machine," Dr Hajkowicz said.

As machines do more tasks, it will be our non-machine like qualities that will become an advantage.

"Your humanness is what's going to make you have a really good career. Communication skills and emotional intelligence will be vital to do your job," he said.

Personal shopper breath a sigh of relief, your jobs are safe.
Personal shopper breath a sigh of relief, your jobs are safe.


At his Vivid Ideas panel, Dr Hajkowicz said he would expand beyond the workforce to look at the major trends that will affect our lives.

These will include a "digital dividend" as a slump in productivity is turned around by smarter technology. And that companies will increasingly become data driven as they hold vast amounts of information about their customers.

Machines would also learn and become more intelligent, he said.

"We'll have taught (driverless) cars to learn from other cars so on a drive from Brisbane to Melbourne the vehicle you are in will know what a hook turn is even if we haven't given it the rules (for that situation)," he said.

On the flip side, cybercrime, online harassment and system breaches will become greater.

And the more ubiquitous machines are, the more we will crave non-digital environments. It's happening already, he said, with visitation rates at cinemas, art galleries and museums stable despite the fact you could find the same information online.

"This is where people want to unplug, they want to pick up a newspaper and spill coffee on it," he said.

"As the digital world engulfs us, the value of the real world rises and people will want real human interaction."

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Dream of a blissful new life has quickly turned into a nightmare

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents have been provided with "detention...

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

This man miraculously survived the 9/11 terror attacks