They may be saddled with student debt and reliant on the bank of mum and dad, but millennials have one advantage over older workers – their jobs are likely to be at lower risk of automation. That’s the finding of new research into how different generations choose jobs by the world’s biggest jobs site, Indeed.
The analysis – which compared the online search patterns of millions of UK jobseekers over the six months to March – found that younger people are substantially more likely to choose roles deemed to be at lower risk of automation.
It showed that while nearly half of millennials (48%) were searching for what economists term ‘non-routine’ roles, 61.1% of baby boomers were looking for ‘routine’ jobs.
Routine jobs – which include sales, admin, transport and construction roles – are seen as being at higher risk of automation than non-routine work, which includes management, professional and service roles.
Economists regard routine jobs as the most prone to automation because they tend to involve high levels of repetition – which machines can master more easily than roles which focus on human interaction and behaviour.
The generational split is even more acute when you compare roles at the two ends of the automation risk spectrum. More than a third (34%) of searches by baby boomers were for routine manual jobs – the type facing the highest threat of automation – compared to barely a fifth of millennials, who were 67% less likely to be searching for such jobs.
By contrast, 30% of millennials were found to be searching for non-routine, cognitive work such as management and professional roles – the least likely to be automated – compared to just 22% of baby boomers.
Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, comments:
“Automation in the workplace is understandably a sensitive subject for many people. Technology continues to reshape not just the way we work but also the number and type of jobs that are available.
“Of course, no generation of jobseekers is completely doomed. Automation is a process, not a single event, and technological progress is going to impact different occupations at different times.
“Disappearing jobs can be a frightening concept and it’s impossible to know exactly which jobs are ‘safe’ — but everyone can prepare for the future by building up transferable, non-routine skills that can be applied across a wide array of occupations.”