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Will the development of automation technology lead to an increase or decrease in graduate jobs?
As automation technology grows rapidly in this twenty-first century, many are anxious about its impact on employment especially for those who are leaving their university education and looking for a career to settle independently. Frey and Osborne (2017) identify that 47% of the total occupations in the United States (US) will be computerized in the future. The research’s result has agitated the public; therefore, this essay will consider the implications of machine learning but firstly, one must differentiate between job and employment. A graduate job may be defined as an act of work which requires a minimum of bachelor’s degree qualification, therefore emphasis will be on the aggregate number of graduate jobs instead of observing the total amount of graduates employed. Three resources: journal article, website and report are used to indicate the direction of the discussion. The first part of the essay revolves around the data and statistics demonstrating the jobs lost. Meanwhile, the second section addresses the growth of the quaternary sector.
- Jobs lost
Most of the evidence suggests a likelihood of graduate jobs to be automated which might contribute to graduate jobs recession. Figure 1, Computerisation’s dependence on wage and education (Frey and Osborne, 2017, p268) reveals that there has been almost 20% of graduate jobs with a probability of 1 to be highly computerised, and this could be supported by Figure 2, Technical automation potential of work activities by job zone in the United States (MGI, 2017, p30), where 22% of graduate jobs are automatable. Although the percentage is arguably low, one should not ignore the possibility where the percentage might surge higher in the future. Likewise, what is striking in the data mentioned at the introduction is the high rate of jobs at risk due to automation technology. It could be assumed that the trend will likely to continue where the percentage of graduate jobs disappearing in the future might increase since all of these studies were carried out based on O*NET, an online service prepared by the US Department of Labor. However, these results are based on the data from over 8 years ago and it is unclear if the same state of technology is still adapted today. The research would have been more consistent if a wider range of countries had been included rather than just the US.
In addition, Freys and Osborne (2017) also discovered that computerization might occur in two stages where the transportation and logistics sectors, as well as, aid workers are expected to be replaced by the technology in the first stage. Most of the jobs affected in the first stage does not need a bachelor’s degree but some of the jobs such as cashier, receptionist and customer service which involve low social intelligence are susceptible to the robotics (Frey and Osborne, 2017). One possible implication of this is that at a certain point, artificial intelligence might improve and eventually, will be able to substitute high social intelligence occupations, leading to the second stage of computerization which consequently, causes a decline in the graduate jobs. The report by MGI (2017) explained that a higher degree of deep learning has been achieved which allows the machines to carry out tasks at a higher productivity and efficiency compared to an expert. For instance, a system is able to detect pneumonia from the chest x-rays more accurate than an experienced radiologist (Kubota, 2017 cited in MGI, 2017). Taken together, these results suggest that graduate jobs may be at risk given that the technology’s barrier is exceeded. It is just a matter of time where the automation technology will overtake the jobs as the main purpose of its existence is to ease human’s life.
- Jobs gained
As technology advances, the demand of the labour in the quaternary sector will likely escalate as robots are becoming a must-have item in every household as well as business sectors just like how smartphones have evolved and grew into a need to everyone nowadays. Every year, the size of the market for personal and household services robots expands by 20% (MGI, 2013 cited in Freys and Osborne, 2017). In order to meet the increasing demand in the market, jobs such as designer, technologist and others which require a high creative intelligence and a qualification of university education will probably rise. However, regarding the statistic, other than becoming obsolete, Freys and Osborne made no attempt to provide information on the background of the data, thus, it fails to portray the significance of the market towards the total proportion of the graduate jobs.
In addition, according to Accenture’s employment history, 50% of the jobs existing today in the firm does not exist five years ago (Fox, 2018). As Accenture is a renowned firm, the employees are usually a degree holder indicating the appearance of new graduate jobs to accommodate the need for world change. However, due to insufficient data, the statistic seems to be biased towards job gained whereas the vanishing jobs need to be considered too to obtain the net effect. Besides that, Accenture is just an example of a company in a service sector which adopts the technology in its daily business activity while other sectors might utilize technology differently which then gives various impact on the substitution of labour.
Furthermore, a recent study reported by MGI (2017) describes that as the world economy is expanding, an increase in income will result to everyone most likely be better off in terms of education and life expectancy which will then followed by a continual growth of professionals’ jobs and health-care providers. It supports the idea of the possibility of new jobs created in the future. Another important finding was in a Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI written by Daugherty and Wilson that new works will be created which their functions are mainly to train, explain and sustain the machines (Fox, 2018). Most of these jobs will likely require a high knowledge of information technology, hence obtaining a bachelor’s degree would be essential. As a result, brand-new graduate jobs will be established, contributing to an increase in graduate jobs. While this may be true, the finding is rather disappointing as it is not backed up with any evidence. In brief, it is almost certain that graduate jobs will improve especially in the quaternary sector due to an increase in usage.
- Limitations and conclusion
Anyhow, it is debatable whether a graduate job is a job where one must possess a bachelor’s degree because there are some cases where one can work his way up to get the job. Hence, there is no exact definition of graduate jobs and it is hard to categorize and estimate the future of graduate jobs. In addition, the time span for the jobs to be fully automated relies on the industry. It is difficult to estimate the impact of each different category of jobs to the total graduate jobs as the proportion of the jobs contributed is uncertain. Moreover, the website and journal article do not address any particular time while the report mentioned the time period to be until 2030, thus it is not applicable in the long run as the development of technology might face a rapid change and there are more variables to be taken care when predicting the future.
In conclusion, depending on the net rate of job loss and job gained, the impact might be one or another. As we are moving towards modernization, jobs which do not have any competency to the technology will naturally diminish. Nevertheless, assuming that the pace of technology remains the same for a few years, the pattern is expected to continue, and graduate jobs will most likely increase because manpower is needed to deal with the uncertainties hold in the future.
- Fox, J. 2018. Get ready for an exciting career as a data hygienist. [Online]. [Accessed 27 September 2018]. Available from: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-04/artificial-intelligence-can-also-be-a-job-creator
- Frey, C. and Osborne, M. 2017. The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Technological forecasting and social change. 114(114), pp.254-280.
- MGI. 2017. Jobs lost, jobs gained: workforce transitions in a time of automation. [Online]. [no place]: McKinsey & Company. [Accessed 27 September 2018]. Available from: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-organizations-and-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages
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