Automation in IT: is your job safe?

One of the most simultaneously exciting and frightening topics in the world of tech is automation. From a business leader’s perspective automation means fewer people to employ, lower overheads and bigger profits. Conversely, for employees, it means the threat of being replaced by an algorithm.

But, what about IT jobs specifically – are any IT roles in danger? Or more importantly, which ones are safe?


Which IT jobs are most likely to be automated?

The jobs in IT that are most likely to become automated are those which require neither a high amount of skill nor rely on good working relationships with other humans. For example, repetitive data entry. Other roles which are likely under threat include ticket handling and tier-one tech support.


Which IT jobs are least likely to become automated?

While many job roles are threatened to some degree, many are not. Career paths that are likely to be safe are ones which require a good degree of either skill, creativity, abstract thinking or interpersonal skills. Software and App Developers are one of the least likely roles to become automated, for example, and these roles have just a 0.042 probability of being computerised – the same probability given to Fine Artists being replaced. Other IT jobs low on the list of automation include most types of engineer, managers and designers.


Team size-reduction

As AI and robotics advance it is inevitable that how we work will change – similar to how agricultural mechanisation means that farms need to employ fewer farmhands than they did 100 years ago. Better tools will become available which make us more efficient at doing our jobs in IT and tech, but this will also mean that team sizes will see a reduction.


The Human touch

The reality is that while many low skilled jobs in tech such as ticket handling will likely become automated, many jobs in IT rely on complex team working and project management that make it impossible to be wholly done by computers. Machines aren’t yet very good at creating, while they can beat us at chess, they can’t meet with a client, analyse their business and invent a tech-solution to make them more profitable.


Jobs in automation

It’s also worth noting that currently there is a booming industry in atomisation itself – roles like Automation Engineer, Automation Lead Tester and Automation architect, which didn’t exist 20 years ago now being in high demand globally. It may be if you fear your job will be automated, that your next role will be in automation itself!


What to consider

As an individual working in tech or IT, it is impossible to be a Luddite. If you fear your job could be under threat from automation, the question you should ask yourself is what can you do now to protect yourself? There are many IT jobs which will be impossible to automate.

Remember, however, that in the last 60 years, perhaps the only job which has disappeared entirely as a result of automation is that of being a lift operator. Instead, automation is more likely to alter the way we work than to make us obsolete.