January 20, 2023 • Finding Your Path • Working in the Trades
What Trade Jobs Are Safe from Automation?
Job security is something everyone needs. The emotional toll of worrying about having a job next week, next year, or in 10 years can disrupt your path towards success. If you’re in the trades and do good work, you deserve to know that dedication is building stability for your future. But in comes robotics and automation and now you’re worried you might be replaced by a machine. So, what trade jobs are safe from automation? And what does the future of automation really look like for everyone?
Read on to learn more about one perspective regarding automation, and why you shouldn’t let it turn you away from starting (or continuing) to work in the trade that called to you.
First Things First: Automation Is Coming
There’s no two ways about it. Research and development in automation is happening. Businesses across the world are looking at ways to take jobs and pass them off to computerized systems designed to perform them faster, cheaper, or simply without the need for rest. Their idealized concept of automation means there will be no need for a real person to be involved in the process.
For those worried about what this means, the silver lining is that it’s likely farther away than you think. Despite all the news surrounding automation today, these systems are too simple to completely replace jobs. Even the most reliable “automation” systems require human input, like those frustrating self-checkouts at your local grocery store.
Will it happen in our lifetime? Maybe. Does it mean you should avoid the trades? Absolutely not!
Automation Isn’t Just for Trade Jobs
The most important thing to consider for those asking what trade jobs are safe from automation is to realize that automation isn’t planned to stop at trades. In fact, the biggest leaps today in AI and automation are targeting white collar jobs or the arts. From AI-powered analytics in business to even AI-generated images, every industry in the world is seeing development towards automated solutions.
Even news and online articles are being generated by AI today. Jobs that may seem impossible for a machine to replicate are being done so convincingly you’ve likely encountered them already without even knowing it!
So, What Trades Jobs Are Safe from Automation?
In reality? Almost all of them – at least for the foreseeable future. The worry that the trades are most likely to be replaced by automation is a misunderstanding of how skilled and personal the individual trades are.
If you’re in the trades, you understand the personal nature of your work. Imagine, for instance, life as a plumber. Have you ever visited two houses with plumbing exactly the same? Depending on who installed the systems, how they were maintained, and the issues they’re facing, your approach to every job is individualized. While a true artificial intelligence may be able to figure it out, automation these days is built on repetition, standardized processes, and consistency. Things that every tradesperson knows doesn’t exist in the real world!
Even if you aren’t currently in a trade, think of how you interact with your favorite local tradespeople. You know you have a choice in several electricians or auto mechanics in your area. But you probably prefer a specific one. Why? Because they go the extra mile, or they’re friendlier, or they have an intuition that makes them better than the competition.
It’s going to be a long time before a robot pulls up in your driveway and plants a tree. – Ken Rusk
While it’s possible eventually, the technology today can’t replicate every aspect of what it means to be a successful tradesperson. Flexibility and problem solving are unique traits of intelligence – and machine learning just isn’t there yet.
Industries Being Replaced Won’t Happen Overnight
Lastly, those worried about what trades are safe from automation typically do so in fear of being replaced without warning. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Society doesn’t turn on a dime – big changes take a long time to happen. Even if, in decades to come, that trades started to adopt automated systems to replace real tradespeople, it would take a long time. Trust from the public wouldn’t happen overnight, trust from businesses that the expense was worth it would take time, and frankly getting the automation right would take years.
Is Now Still a Good Time to Get into the Trades?
Of course! Today, tradespeople are needed more than ever. Even in economic downturn, refrigerators need to run, water needs to be accessible, and our cars need to drive. With the large generation of tradespeople still on their way towards retirement, the trades are likely to continue seeing plenty of space for fresh eyes and hands. Whether you want to fix cars, plant trees, or get involved in manufacturing, there’s never a bad time to join the trades and start making money now.
If automation happens as predicted in sci-fi novels and movies, it’s simply going to be a fact that no job is safe anyway. There’s no reason to think that the trades will be more likely to be replaced than any other job. If computers can start to think like humans, they’ll be able to do almost anything we can do. Maybe they’ll be fixing our cars, but they’ll also be filming the next big Hollywood blockbuster, writing your next favorite song, and transporting all our goods.
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Ken Rusk is a blue-collar entrepreneur who has started several successful endeavors and mentored hundreds of young people in their pursuit of a satisfying career and fulfilling life. Discover how Ken’s approach to life and work can help you set and achieve your goals – all while avoiding the nearly inescapable trap of college debt. Get a copy the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Blue Collar Cash today!