Sales clerks, warehouse packers among jobs headed for scrap heap

With change comes opportunity if skills are transferable

A lot of current jobs are likely to be as obsolete in the future as horse-drawn carriage drivers, bowling-alley pin setters or streetlamp lighters are today.

The good news for many workers is that their current job skills might be transferable to new jobs.

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The pace of change, in some cases, is also slow enough that there will be time for workers to take training to operate new equipment or software.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

“Within the supply chain, there are warehousing jobs — picker-packers, the folks that go and fill orders — those jobs are going to disappear,” said Jeremy Tiffin, president of Horizon Recruitment. “You’ve got computerized programs where you scan what the order was and an automated robot goes and retrieves those things from the shelves and puts them in neatly arranged and accurate packages that get sent out.”

Sophisticated software also threatens some professional jobs, Tiffin said, such as software and automation jobs for workers who score people’s credit ratings or complete risk profiles of potential loan recipients for banks.

Swim Recruiting recruitment manager Genevieve Miller agreed that a lot of finance and accounting jobs will become obsolete.

“The jobs aren’t yet endangered but I think more and more new professionals are seeing that [accounting is] not a long-term career path because the field is being automated.”

But other recruiters say that in many cases workers will be able to take on new roles because new jobs will be created. The shift to digital marketing has reduced the need for printed material but the rise of 3D printing has provided new opportunities for print-shop owners and workers.

“Jobs keep evolving and changing,” said Miles Employment Group president Sandra Miles.

She noted that the Internet has made education more accessible for workers to learn new skills.

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Universities and colleges have been offering more online courses, which give people in remote communities the same opportunity to learn as those in urban centres.

Miles also balked at job-finding website CareerCast.com listing mail carrier as its top job likely to disappear.

“Somebody has to deliver all the online packages that everyone is ordering,” she said.

Amazon.com, however, has patented drone-delivery technology that could one day eliminate the need for human delivery drivers to deliver retailers’ parcels.

Another technological innovation that Amazon.com is spearheading is at its Amazon Go store in Seattle. Shoppers can activate a smartphone app when they enter the store and then gather the items they want and leave the store. Sensors and other technology determine what items a shopper has taken. The shopper is then billed for the appropriate amount.

“If sales clerk jobs are jeopardized, there might be a rise in customer service jobs,” Miles said. “If I buy something through an app and I come home and am not happy with it, I will want to speak with somebody or go to a chat room to find out how to send it back.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom 

The original version of this article can be found at: https://www.biv.com/article/2017/8/endangered-jobs-new-workplace/

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