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Navigating the AI revolution – career paths for tomorrow’s high school graduates

If you’ve been watching the news this week, there’s been plenty of talk about AI and its potential to take over a significant number of jobs. The way that it has been reported may have created a ripple of anxiety amongst young people still in high school or at university and parents as well.

But please bear in mind that what you hear about on the news probably isn’t the whole story. While it’s true that certain roles may be automated, it’s important to remember that in this era characterised by rapid technological advancements, the AI revolution is also going to open up a ton of other avenues for innovation and career opportunities.

Instead of worrying about what could change, let’s refocus on the positives and consider all the potential for new ways of working, as well as the new jobs that could be created.

Will robots take my job?

Hundreds of jobs that existed in the past are obsolete now, from carriage makers and chimney sweeps, to projectionists and clock keepers. And that’s not a bad thing; often the jobs were boring, hard manual work, or downright dangerous. Just like we’re experiencing now, the industrial and technological revolutions caused huge changes to the workforce, which in turn allowed the development of new jobs and the lifestyles we enjoy today.

Although AI might reshape certain industries, it’s important to remember that the majority of careers won’t be entirely replaced, but rather transformed with some changes to the daily tasks.

We’ve put together a short list of jobs that could be automated, along with along with suggestions for other jobs less likely to be automated but which require similar skill sets:

Data Entry and Administrative Assistants

Routine and repetitive tasks like data entry could easily be replicated by AI, whereas decision-making and customer service will remain valuable. If you have one of these roles in mind, you could consider adapting or upskilling into data analysis or interpretation instead.

Manufacturing Workers

As automation in factories increases, workers could transition to other roles like supervising and training colleagues or maintaining and improving the automated processes.

Retail Clerks and Cashiers

With the rise of online shopping and self-service tills, retail roles might evolve into customer experience and relationship management positions instead.

Drivers

As autonomous vehicles become more popular, ultimately there may be fewer driving jobs around. Instead, you could think about careers in fleet management, vehicle maintenance, urban planning for future transportation needs, or be the innovator, designer, or engineer for new vehicles and their programming.

Bank Tellers

Banking is already increasingly digitalised. Instead of thinking about becoming a teller, you could pivot to financial advising, investments, or mortgage broking. You’d be helping clients make the best decisions based on their unique goals and circumstances.

Telephone and Switchboard Operators

This career has been declining for quite a while due to technological advances, people having their own phones and laptops with calling functions, as well as the rise of emailing. Some roles, such as emergency dispatchers, will be harder to automate because of the level of engagement that’s required with the caller. And if you enjoy helping other people and have great social skills, then there are lots of other careers you could consider.

Thinking about a job that’s not on this (very short) list, but worried it could be automated? No problem; you could check out the Labour Market Information in your area and look at the growth and demand for those roles, or see where it’s ranked on this database. Then consider what other jobs could be a great match for your skills and interests that may have a lower chance of being automated.

Career fields at less risk of automation

Many jobs require uniquely human skills. Things like emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking, and complex problem-solving are just a few examples of skills that are going to be very hard, if not impossible, for AI to replicate (or replicate well at least).

Let’s take a look at some examples of fields that are less likely to become fully automated as they rely on human skills so much:

Healthcare Professionals

Doctors, nurses, dentists, and therapists need to have empathy, compassion, and the ability to make complex decisions based on a multitude of factors. While AI can aid in diagnostics and data analysis, the human touch remains irreplaceable for patient care.

Creative Professions

Artists, animators, writers, musicians, and designers need originality and emotional expression. While AI might be one of the tools used, the actual creative process requires imagination and the ability to evoke emotions that AI would struggle to replicate.

Social Services

Social workers, counsellors, psychologists, and other professionals who deal with complex human brains and emotions, in an enormous variety of situations, must possess high levels of observation, understanding, communication, and empathy to create the perfect support for each client and their situation.

Education

We already know that you can learn a lot from computers and other digital technology, but human educators go beyond delivering information. Effective educators also must be able to form relationships, provide mentoring, be emotionally supportive, personalise guidance to individual students’ needs, and most importantly engage learners of all kinds. Teachers and trainers also help students to develop critical thinking, nurture curiosity, and learn other essential life skills.

Research and Development

While AI could be used for data analysis and number crunching, forming the basis of project work, there are still human skills involved, like creativity, intuition, depth of knowledge in specific subject areas, contextual awareness, adaptability, and the ability to draw patterns or make connections that AI would miss. These are all essential in areas of research and development that are not likely to be replaced.

Innovation

Can a robot really decide what fashions people will find comfortable, or what flavour combinations work well together, what smells nice, or feels pleasant on our skin? Probably not. Therefore jobs from marketing and sales to cosmetics, fashion, and cooking will continue to require human input.

In every industry you can look for the careers that are unlikely to be replaced and learn where opportunities will always exist for humans, not AI.

Careers created by AI

By this point hopefully you’re feeling positive about the future and the number of careers already out there that need a human element.

Now let’s consider all the possible jobs which have yet to be created that could come about as a result of the evolution of AI; and there’s likely to be a lot!

Here are a few examples:

AI Ethicists/Transparency Advocates

You could be the person providing human assessments of AI systems, monitoring them for bias, fairness, and potential social impact, ensuring that technology serves humanity responsibly.

Virtual Reality Architects

They could be designing immersive digital environments for education, entertainment, therapy, and more as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) develop. You’d need skills in design, technology, and psychology to create engaging and functional VR experiences.

Personal Data Brokers

They could be the mediators between consumers and organisations, negotiating data-sharing agreements while ensuring privacy and compensation.

Robot Behaviour Designers

People might be needed to model and fine-tune robot behaviours, ensuring safe and meaningful interactions. A combination of skills in psychology, engineering, and design could be important to create robots that respond appropriately to human cues.

Cybersecurity AI Analysts

This would be similar to existing cybersecurity roles, but more focused on developing AI systems or programs that proactively detect and defend against cyberattacks. You’d need to specialise in AI, programming, cybersecurity, and perhaps have background in understanding criminal minds too.

Elderly Companion Developers

You could be responsible for creating companions that can provide emotional support, reminders, and basic assistance to the elderly (ideally between human visits and interactions). Developers and programmers who also understand human psychology and aged care could be perfect for these roles.

Urban Farmers/Green Infrastructure Managers

In the future, we might combine traditional farming knowledge with AI-powered monitoring and optimisation. This could ensure sustainable food production to support growing populations, even in urban environments.

Stay positive

Try to ignore the media doom and gloom, continue to focus on identifying opportunities, developing diverse skill sets, and cultivating a mindset of lifelong learning. That way you’ll always be ready for changes and can easily adapt.

Remember that the high school students of today have the potential to become the innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow’s AI-enhanced world.

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