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How safe is your job?

Des McLoughlin says developing creative and entrepreneurial skills is the way to insure your career prospects against the rise of the robots

A report by PwC has found that 30% of jobs in Britain are potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). In some sectors as many as half the jobs could disappear. The report goes on to state that 10m UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years as jobs become increasingly automated.

Artificial intelligence is now improving rapidly, and becoming far more effective, as can be see by applications like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

Until very recently, machines couldn’t drive, read our handwriting, understand our speech, translate languages or beat us at strategy games. Think of the possibilities for AI then in 15 years’ time.

While the hospitality and events sectors aren’t analysed specifically in the report, PwC identify all forms of administration as a high risk area of job loss, with accommodation and food service considered to be of medium risk.

How safe your job will be in the future is likely to depend on whether it requires interacting with people and using social intelligence.

AI is not as useful for jobs that involve creativity and coming up with clever solutions or working in an unpredictable environment. This is good news for many working in the meetings and events industry. Ours has always been a people industry and requires a high level of human interaction.

The best events need to be different and, as such, require high levels of creative thinking. You need people skills when faced with a crisis and it’s also hard to imagine a key speaker at an event being replaced by a robot.

If you are in a creative role then you shouldn’t lose too much sleep over the rise of the robots. If, on the other hand you work in a finance department, or a role that requires little human interaction and is often repetitive, your future prospects are not so attractive.

Venue sourcing one would imagine is fairly safe as it often requires people to think outside the box as well as negotiate around rates and contracts. In some jobs, though, the booker’s role is largely transactional and these jobs aren’t likely to survive.

It’s safe to say less staffing will be needed at events in the future. Registration and badging are examples of where far fewer staff will be needed.

Food preparation will continue to be automated and performed more cheaply by machines. Fewer waiting staff will be needed to serve at events and many aspects of security will be performed through AI. In hotels it’s easy to envisage a future without front office staff.

In summary the simpler your job, the more under threat it is. The next generation of workers joining our industry will need to be highly educated with strong, creative people and entrepreneurial skills This should help them become masters of the robots rather than being replaced by one.