Apr 11, 2019

"Superjobs" of the future are just more work

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Among the thorniest questions hanging over experts puzzling out the future of work is what kind of new jobs will be enabled by AI and robotics — and how many there will be, relative to the work that is likely to disappear due to automation.

The big picture: Some predict wild, new jobs, like "cyber calamity forecasters." But in the near term, one likely outcome — already beginning to play out — is that people will be asked to do work that was previously done by 2 or 3 people with very different skills.

Details: These amalgams are what Deloitte is calling "superjobs" in its latest report on human capital, released on Thursday. These future jobs combine "activities and job responsibilities that traditionally would never be brought together," says Erica Volini, Deloitte's U.S. Human Capital Leader.

  • At a big bank — Volini wouldn't say which — investment advisers are starting to become career coaches, too. That's because peoples' skill sets are becoming as important an indicator of their future wealth as investments, she says.
  • At Cleveland Clinic, doctors and nurses are un-specializing, Volini says. Now, its doctors are expected not only to bring in medical expertise, but also to give top-notch bedside care.
  • In manufacturing, Volini sees a potential new line of work in "robot-teaming coordinators": employees who implement automation and work with software developers to train the robots that will carry it out.

If this sounds like more work for fewer people, well, it might be. If history is any indication, a company that can consolidate 100 jobs into 50 people might jump at the opportunity to shave off a good chunk of a department.

Meanwhile, these polymathic super-workers will only make up a slice of the entire workforce. "As we see the emergence of 'superjobs,' we're also seeing growth in commodity jobs, service jobs, and micro-tasks," Volini tells Axios.

  • The latter includes low-paid, largely undesirable tech work, like what's being done by the "digital janitors" Axios' Erica Pandey profiled last week.
  • In 10 years, Volini predicts, 20% to 30% of jobs will be "superjobs," 10% to 20% will low-wage, low-skill jobs, and the middle 60% to 70% will be "hybrid jobs" that require both technical and soft skills.

The bottom line: As Steve reported on Wednesday, economists say automation is destroying jobs faster than it's creating new ones. The big remaining question is whether or not the best new jobs will be widely accessible.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,131,713 — Total deaths: 59,884 — Total recoveries: 233,591Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 278,458 — Total deaths: 7,159 — Total recoveries: 9,897Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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