RBC Report: An Automated Future Could Play to Women’s Strengths

By Cathy Milton.

Maureen McCann’s recent post about the future of work highlighted the thought that career development professionals owe it to their clients to develop strategies for navigating the increasingly-automated world of work.

On March 5th, 2019, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Economics released a report titled Advantage women: how an automated future could play to women’s strengths describing how technological disruption will impact women in the labour force. The bank’s analysis shows that women are at greater risk as they hold more than half of Canadian jobs facing an elevated threat from au­tomation.

Thirty-five percent of all jobs in Canada are expected to be impacted by technological advancements.

In spite of these statistics, there is good news for women as RBC’s study shows that women may be better positioned than men for the jobs of the future.

Here are some key highlights of the report:

  • In the services sector, women face a higher risk of having their jobs displaced. Administrative, book­keeping, and data-entry jobs—all of which traditionally employ higher numbers of women—are being replaced by artificial intelligence technologies that can maintain, organize, and analyze data much more rapidly and effi­ciently than humans can. By RBC’s calculations, 54% of the occupations in the Canadian economy that face a high degree of risk of being automated (35% of all Canadian jobs) are held by women. That’s 3.4 million jobs.
  • In Canada, men are more than twice as likely as women to work in at-risk manufacturing roles that don’t have close substitutes. This generalist/specialist divide has important implications for how men and women are likely to weather disruption. And since the demand for the generalist skillset is expected to increase while machines displace more task-ori­ented jobs, women have the advantage in navigat­ing this transition.
  • With employment declines in at-risk occupations such as receptionists, library technicians, and office clerks, it is becoming apparent that the nega­tive effects of automation are beginning to take hold. Still, occupations that use similar sets of general and social skills – occupations like nurses’ aides and early childhood educators (and assistants) have seen impressive growth. Overall, occupations in which general and social skills are important have grown over 33% faster than the national average, while those using specific technical skills lagging far behind.

These are just a few highlights. It is well worth a thorough review of the full report. In it, there is reference to an earlier RBC report – Humans Wanted – which Maureen also included as a resource in her post. Humans Wanted is aimed at helping youth prepare for what’s coming next, but most of the advice is applicable to workers of any age.

Together, these two research reports provide valuable and current information, informing career development professionals about the challenges many clients are facing at a rapidly accelerating pace. To paraphrase the title of Maureen’s post (Career Professionals: Are We Ready for the Future of Work?), is the career development industry ready to help clients displaced by technological advancement? Are you ready?

Let us know. How have you prepared yourself to guide your clients into the future of work?

Photo by PhotoMIX-Company on Pixabay

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