4 disappearing professions teach about the future

By 2030, these professions will be almost extinct. This may be good news.

I'm not a big fan of predictions, especially since most of them turn out to be horribly wrong.

However, there is one type of prediction that, since my childhood, has not failed to come true: prophecies about dying jobs.

During high school (at the risk of giving away my age, that is, twenty years ago), teachers told us how services like DVD by mail and, later, video on demand, would put people at nearby Blockbuster out of jobs. or 100% Video (a now defunct Brazilian video club).

They also told us how the Internet would take jobs away from telephone catalog salespeople.

All of them turned out to be true.

The accuracy of the forecasts on the disappearance of jobs is due to their gradual process. It is not a sudden movement. We don't wake up one day and see the nearby McDonalds without human cashiers. Instead, they install a self-service kiosk, and then another, and another… Until we place all our orders on these touch-screen electronic totems.

We see the change happening, so we have time to absorb it. The same goes for the professions listed below. His twilight has already begun. Some of them are in the initial phase, others in more advanced stages. I will not write about obvious facts, such as the decline of postal jobs, but about professions that were once considered irreplaceable.

In each of these vanishing jobs, there is an important lesson, a valuable vision, of the future that awaits us.

The 2020 crisis accelerated the disappearance of travel agencies. A fall that began with online services and aggregators.

Most millennials looking for a flight turn to Google Flights or Skyscanner. When searching for hotels, go to Booking.com or HostelWorld.com; If they prefer serviced apartments or plan to stay longer, they look at Airbnb, a company that now even offers sightseeing tours.

In all these cases, it is not necessary to resort to a third person. We can do it ourselves and select based on the thousands of reviews available on the internet.

Will travel agencies disappear completely? No. Like other professions on this list, it will become a niche. Whether visiting exotic destinations – think North Korea – or planning a special occasion, such as a full wedding party abroad, travel agents will still be there.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts an increase in the need for experts in special destinations or specific types of travelers. These include corporate trips, luxury vacations, student exchanges or travelers over 55 years of age.

Instead of simply acting as a dispatcher, the new travel agent, the one who will retain the position, will add value to the customer experience. This value translates into experience, less time wasted with bureaucracies, and less chance of something going wrong.

The advent of Internet aggregators and price comparison engines eliminates the need for the middleman, the dispatcher. For decades, people in these positions benefited because they had the contacts, knew the prices, and knew the processes. It's not like that.

Any travel agent who wants to survive in the coming decades will have to add real value to their service. Having a phone book will not be enough.

The need to add value is valid for many other professions, such as stockbrokers or real estate agents.

Automation in fast food chains is not new. But it skyrockets when people start demanding that cashiers be paid $15 an hour. Yes, all workers should receive a fair wage, but the world is not a fair place. Neither is the economy.

The protesters thought they were protesting against low wages when in reality they were protesting against the jobs themselves. McDonald's (and Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.) solution was to automate, which would have happened anyway, but the complaints only made it faster.

In the United States alone, 4.5 million people work in fast food chains. Many of them will lose their jobs in the coming decades. Not just cashiers, but also cooks and even restaurant managers. It won't be long until a single machine makes a Big Mac. We're closer to that than you think.

The trend toward automation is not exclusive to fast food companies. Amazon is piloting the “Amazon Go.” This is a convenience store with zero employees involved. You walk in, grab what you need and leave. The price of what you have purchased is automatically deducted from your credit card. Sensors will be everywhere.

Professions that do not require cognitive power will disappear. The best guarantee that your work will continue to exist is the test proposed by Cal Newport to differentiate superficial from deep work: would a college student be able to perform it after a few training sessions? If the answer is yes, it is a superficial job. It is destined to disappear.

However, professions marked by craftsmanship will continue to exist.

A few months ago I asked a group of friends a question: When was the last time you visited a banking agency?

The average response was four months. Some had not set foot in a bank for more than a year.

I made this pool after verifying that of the 3 banks in which I have accounts, only one has physical branches. Two are virtual banks, in which all transactions or services are carried out online, without the need to drive to the next shopping center or wait in line.

Virtual banks not only save us time. They have considerably cheaper commissions because they require less work. We are in a time where we pay for almost everything with plastic cards or virtual wallets. We are in an age where we can make investments using our mobile phones while having drinks at the pool. Why would we need to talk to a bank teller?

However, as with travel agencies, not all retail bank employees will lose their jobs. High-yield services and private banking will continue to exist, and people with deep pockets will need an expert to help them decide on investments.

What they won't need is someone to inform them of their account balance.

With customers' increasing awareness of investment options and financial tools, the need to drive to a bank to invest in a mutual fund disappears.

Any profession that depends on the physical presence of the client, without offering any tangible benefit that compensates for the time invested, is in danger, unless we are talking about government offices.

I'll start this paragraph with a warning. Executive secretaries will not disappear. Physical executive secretaries will.

And again, thanks to technology.

Many of the tasks that secretaries performed 20 years ago are already the subject of stories from the past.

Last week, I wanted to hire a new employee for my company, and instead of asking my assistant to call each of them to schedule interviews, I simply used Calendly. The application creates a link that shows candidates the time slots I have available to interview them.

They select one and the interview is scheduled. My smartphone's calendar updates automatically.

Calendly is one example among thousands. Innovative applications to streamline operations are growing at breakneck speed, leapfrogging tasks previously performed by executive assistants.

What cannot be automated, can be outsourced. Websites like Fiverr open up the possibility of hiring freelancers to do jobs that were previously done by executive secretaries. Professions such as data entry or formatting will cost a fraction of an assistant's daily salary.

That the application revolution is here. Years ago, we thought that applications like ICQ or MSN Messenger could eliminate the need for letters or phone calls. Later, we discovered that Uber could replace a full-time driver for a fraction of the cost. But we never imagined that apps could replace Teresa, the charming, hard-working executive assistant, or Brannon, the guy who sorts and delivers the letters. Turns out they can.