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Disappearing Job

Posted March. 05, 2018 07:53,   

Updated March. 05, 2018 07:53


Bank was indeed one of the most popular job places for commercial high school graduates in the 1980s. Working for a bank meant a stable job and a good pay. In particular, honor students from women’s commercial high schools would apply for bank teller, which is a position that deals with deposits and withdrawals at the front line in a bank. The first ordeal for bank tellers was when the Asian financial crisis broke out in 1997. High school graduate workers were the first ones to be dismissed and were crowded out of the market by university graduates due to a prolonged jobs crunch. Nowadays, bank tellers are facing a second ordeal. Until last year, some 1,600 banks closed for the past six years due to a conspicuous increase in financial transactions through Internet banking and mobile banking.

The Korea Employment Information Service picked out six jobs that may disappear in the future in its report on the “Prospect of Future Jobs in the 4th Industrial Revolution” – bank tellers, diagnosticians, call center workers, cashiers, workers engaged in simple tasks in the production or manufacturing sector and warehouse operators. The main trait of the “jobs in crisis” is that the expenses for adopting automation or artificial intelligence (AI) technologies is cheaper than labor costs. In other words, only people who can prove that their work is not only cheaper than AI but also outperforms that of AI can keep their jobs.

The wave of change has already begun. In 2015, Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul has adopted a robot for compounding drugs. This robot works with anticancer drugs, which is a tricky sector in compounding drugs, for six hours per day on average, and deals with some 200 prescriptions a day on average. Daeryook & Aju, a law firm, recently hired an “AI lawyer.” This lawyer can finish research tasks that are needed to analyze judicial precedents or laws for cases in just a few minutes, which would otherwise take three to four days for a beginner lawyer. This implies that professional work is also not an exception to changes arising out of technological advancement.

Losing jobs to machines, however, does not equal a dystopic future. There are jobs that disappear but at the same time new jobs will emerge. The Korea Employment Information Service has selected professionals for Internet of things, big data, virtual reality, 3D printing, drone and data protection as rising jobs. Education paths should also change in line with the changing world. It is worth looking back on whether parents are pressuring dreams to children, who will have jobs 10, 20 years later, based on today’s perspective.

Su-Young Hong gaea@donga.com