Will the rise of the machines change your job?

AUTOMATION: A new online tool allows regions to understand their three most and least vulnerable occupations.
AUTOMATION: A new online tool allows regions to understand their three most and least vulnerable occupations.

Rapid innovation and changes in technology raises the question about employment in the future. Will the rise of machines replace or transform jobs, and what does that mean for the future of our workforce?

Much of the discussion around this subject has focussed at a national level and the impact automation will have on jobs in relation to the national economy.  

At the Regional Australia Institute, we believe it’s imperative for regions to understand what this means at a local level.

We have released a regional job automation pack, giving regional leaders information at their fingertips that is both practical and useful, to help them consider the issues within their own communities.

While it’s true some jobs will be lost to automation, many new jobs will be created in the process and now is the time to start preparing for predicted changes.

Our new research builds upon international data to highlight which jobs in each region are at high, moderate or low levels of vulnerability to automation.

We’ve created an online job vulnerability data tool that enables regions to understand their three most and least vulnerable occupations.

When you go online, all you have to do is select a specific local government area (LGA) to find the information that’s relevant to you.

If we use Federation LGA in NSW as an example, we can find out that the top three jobs most at risk of automation are sale assistants, hospitality workers and food process workers.

Those jobs least at risk in this LGA are school teachers; hospitality and accommodation managers; and construction, distribution and production managers.

Our new work also contains a master list of all occupations, arranging professions from least vulnerable to most vulnerable, allowing regions to identify the mix of jobs in their labour market and assess overall vulnerability.

It’s interesting to note that the three least vulnerable occupations across the country were medical practitioners, nursing and midwifery professionals; and health therapy professionals.

School teachers and public relations managers also made it into the top 10.

The regional job automation pack has been designed to assist regional decision makers and other stakeholders to better understand how resilient their local labour markets are in dealing with the changes in employment caused by new technologies.

This will help them develop strategies specific to their own labour markets.

Through our research, we have found some regions are more susceptible to automation than others, and each region also has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Regional cities have been identified as experiencing the greatest proportion of jobs highly vulnerable to automation.

While the numbers appear high, regional cities have an advantage in managing change, due to their increased level of innovation and entrepreneurial skills within their labour markets.

While there are fewer highly vulnerable jobs in rural areas, it may be more difficult for these areas to respond unless there are changes to local education services and technological capability.

Regional cities have been identified as experiencing the greatest proportion of jobs highly vulnerable to automation.

So, what is this new information really telling us?

It tells us that as the workforce structure changes in regional Australia, communities across the country need to be looking at how they will build local skills and new business that align with job demands.

The regional job automation pack is the first release from the RAI’s Future of Regional Jobs inquiry program.

Further work over coming months will build on this knowledge, providing regions with more information about job creation opportunities in regional Australia.

We encourage people to go to our website and use the data tool to find out how your region is situated.

As always, the RAI is keen for feedback on our new research.

If you have a story you’re willing to share with others about how your region is tackling this challenge, please email info@regionalaustralia.org.au

For more information about the Regional Job Automation Pack, go to www.regionalaustralia.org.au

Jack Archer is chief executive of the Regional Australia Institute.