Automation that’s killed jobs at NWI factories is coming for white-collar workers next

Automation threatens as many as 800 million jobs by 2030, according to McKinsey & Co.

Region workers at steel mills and factories have been losing jobs to automation since the 1970s, but now the white-collar workers who thought they were making themselves indispensable in the modern economy by going off and getting college educations also are at risk.

McKinsey & Co. estimates up to 800 million individuals globally could lose their jobs to automation by 2030, forcing them to seek out new career paths.

Commercial Cafe, a commercial real estate services firm, warns this disruption will effect many white-collar workers.

“As job automation can mean both the introduction of physical, mechanized robots and complicated computer algorithms, this phenomenon won’t just affect blue-collar jobs, but will also have a major impact on white-collar jobs, which require attention to detail and intricate skill sets," Commercial Cafe said in a recent report.

The study estimates the 20 high-paying, white-collar professional jobs most like to become obsolete are compensation and benefits manager, budget analyst, nuclear technician, airfield operations specialist, atmospheric and space scientist, personal financial adviser, agricultural engineer, computer programmer, physical scientist, economist, judge, detective, radiation specialist, manager, financial analyst, computer network architect, computer hardware engineer, statistician, information security analyst and actuary.

“Technological advancement and innovation is poised to have a massive impact on what we consider to be high-skill, white-collar professions that we once assumed would be around forever,” Commercial Cafe said in a press release. “The top-earning profession on our list is that of economists, which stand a 43 percent chance that they will be displaced and forced to find other ways to make a living; actuaries, which boast a median yearly income of $106,478, are slightly less ‘endangered,’ with a 21 percent chance of losing their jobs to automation. What’s interesting to see is that even jobs that require attention to detail, capacity for analysis and decision-making are likely to become automated: judicial workers such as judges and magistrates run a 40 percent risk of being displaced.”

Compensation and benefits managers, who number 16,000 nationwide, face a 96 percent chance of extinction because of computer algorithms, making it the most endangered job in the United States, according to Commercial Cafe.

But all hope is not lost for workers who might be forced to seek out another career path. They might just end up moving over to a parallel position that requires a very similar skill set, education and experience.

“Since these managers handle a company’s benefits program and the internal pay structure, they can possibly transition into a human resources department or they could just switch to a different managerial position with similar responsibilities,” Commercial Cafe said in the report. "So, for some, the transition could be as simple as a job title change. The same goes for budget analysts, which have a 94 percent chance of being displaced — a budget analyst could easily transition into a position of accountant, financial adviser, marketing analyst, financial analyst, actuary, or revenue collector, to name a few. Therefore, while the title itself might become obsolete, those who work in this profession could easily find work in similar occupations which require a similar set of skills.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.