Graduates warned future jobs at risk due to rise of automation

by | Dec 9, 2016 | Biz/Tech

Elvin George


As technology continues to shrink the job market, experts counsel that Canada’s post-secondary students should be prepared for possible struggles in finding employment after graduation.

A 2014 study by Brookfield Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship showed 42 per cent of the Canadian labour force would be affected by automation in the next decade or two.

The report outlines jobs that Canadians are now paid to do could be done by technology, including robotic technology, in the future.

But the study also states that automation will have little to no affect in low risk fields and is expected to create almost 712,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Matthew Dumalagan, a second-year Business student at the University of Guelph-Humber, knows students are aware of the current job crisis but believes they avoid the issue.

“It’s getting worse and worse, but students don’t really talk about it,” Dumalagan said. “I have older friends who finished their business degrees and are having trouble finding a job.”

“I hope that the current students of the world learn to open their eyes on the matter, and start to narrow their career path to a career with openings,” he said.

The Brookfield study states that “technology can be a substitute for human labour in routine tasks” and can “increase productivity in non-routine, cognitive and interactive tasks.”

Automation in the form of self-driving vehicles could put taxi and truck drivers out on the curb in five years. This form of automation is also expected to affect transport, heavy equipment operation, and related maintenance occupations as outlined in a graph done in the study.

According to the same graph, sales representatives and salespersons, in wholesale and retail trade, are at an extremely high probability of being impacted by automation. This will make it even harder for young people to gain working experience, as retail and customer service is usually the first job experience many people have before breaking out into other fields.

Another sector that could be affected by technology is the banking sector through the growth of online banking.

Shaneeza Germain, in her final year of business administration at Guelph-Humber, is fearful for the future.

“I’m aware the field is becoming narrow, and that should encourage students to gain experience,” Germain said. “The future for jobs will get a lot harder than before, so it’s important for students to get a foot in the door, and be prepared for the future.”

Jason Gool, vice-president of Student Life at Lakeshore, suggests students volunteer more to help themselves prepare for the harsh job market.

“As I manage all the events, I love to include volunteering opportunities because it boosts an individual resume,” Gool said. “After you’re done your program, it’s your job to find a job, but if you have no experience, a company would be very reluctant to hire you.

“I advise every Humber student to look at the bulletins across campus, and start thinking about their future now and go volunteer,” he said.