STEM and tech careers

The robots are coming! Finding a job after university and future-proofing your career

By stephenbailey Jun 22, 2019
Robots can be a rather frightful proposition for graduates. In the incredibly competitive world of employment robots are perceived as taking jobs, especially jobs on the first few rungs on the career ladder. This article is here to tell you that robots aren’t a threat to a long and successful career. Instead, they are an indication as to what employers and businesses are looking for in the future. A successful long career doesn’t mean thinking like a robot. It means outsmarting the robots and thinking about the skills needed in the future.

Don’t Worry – Automation Has Always Been Here

Robots transformed heavy industry through the 1970s. Workers were promised that new automation would lead to shorter working weeks and greater employee benefits. In reality robots led to redundancies and cost cutting. Before robots there were computers. Think how a simple mathematics program (predecessors to Microsoft excel) changed back-end office functions for ever. Robots are the latest incarnation of automation. They’ve improving immensely through AI. Then there’s blockchain and other technologies which can also be considered rivals to your career. Businesses are always looking for ways to improve productivity while lowering costs – think Uber’s driverless taxis or a fully digital manufacturing facility. Computers and technology systems have accelerated automation and will make many other job roles redundant in the future. So what’s the good news? You’re not a robot.

Outsmarting the Robots

Oxford University recently produced a report listing jobs that are most and least likely to be automated in the near future. On the likely list there are many jobs that require repetitive tasks, such as data entry keyers and telemarketers. Let’s think about that for a moment. Computers will be able to input the data themselves, but who is making sense of all that data? Sales calls may become automated, but the actual sale will still require an empathetic human touch. Change continues to come but that just means a skill change rather than a lack of employment. There will be less and less jobs that perform specific, repetitive tasks. There will be more and more jobs that require critical thinking and solutions. And isn’t that what university and life experience has prepared you for?

What Can You Learn From the Robots?

Why are big companies investing so much in robots and automation technology? They are reliable, focused and consistent. Are you reliable, focused and consistent? As automation accelerates these three traits become non-negotiable. As competition for graduate jobs and careers increases, these three traits take on greater value.

What Sets You Apart From a Robot?

That’s right, you’re not a robot. You think freely, find solutions, and use creativity to make a difference. And most crucially for a successful long career, you’re already developing transferrable skills. Robots are developed for specific tasks, just like computer programs. That’s good news for graduates. The jobs at risk from automation are those that perform a specific, replaceable task. Those aged in their fifties who have performed and perfected a specific task are increasingly at risk. Now is a great time to be starting a career as you can respond to changing technology. The direction of travel for employers is to find staff with skills that can be applied to multiple situations. Graduates embarking on a career are at a huge advantage here. As automation spreads the onus is increasingly towards flexibility, strategy, and thinking outside the box. So as you look towards a career think less about a specific job you can or want to do. Instead, consider the skills you would like to develop. Look for jobs that will give you some independence as well as opportunity to develop skills, even if they are in a completely different industry to what you initially intended.

Why Robots Are Good For Your Early Career

Previous generations battled through a relatively linear career progression. Essentially you worked your way up slowly from the bottom. It’s true that the first job is now harder to find for graduates. However, as automation replaces the bottom rungs, graduate jobs are coming with increased responsibility and independence. You are required to think freely from the start, rather than just copy your line manager. There will be less administrative tasks to do and a greater focus on making a difference to the company. That should lead to greater and faster career opportunities. While it’s harder to get your foot in the door, it’s becoming easier to make an impression and accelerate your career.

What Transferrable Skills Do You Need for a Long Career

The Willingness to Learn

Everything is changing. The systems and methods of today will have changed in the next decade. When starting a career you must demonstrate a willingness to experiment with the next big idea and continue to learn. Those that can grasp new concepts quickly will have an advantage. Those that embrace new ideas will be valued. Those with an open-minded attitude that embraces new solutions is going to have a long career. So if you believe that there is more than one way to do things you’re at an advantage.

A Focus on Growth

What difference do you make in your job? That’s going to be career question of the future. It’s no longer what do you do, but what you make for the business. That doesn’t just mean sales and profit margin, it means processes, improvements, opportunities, and an ability to scale productivity and production. A robot does a task. You should be focused on making a business grow.

Strategic Thought and Clear Decision Making

AI will only improve, meaning robots are capable of performing increasingly complex tasks. But robots can’t think strategy. They can’t make a clear decision on what is best for the business. Strategy and decision making require independence. If you’re the employee that’s always looking for instructions then you are replaceable. If you are thinking strategically and making clear decisions you are part of the future.

Finding a Job After University

Though that this section was chance to cross link between the other articles. Make a career plan. Consider an apprenticeship as a building block to your career. Consider an internship. Learn how to write a good graduate CV. Stay confident and keep networking on Fledglink. The more you network, the more opportunity you uncover.