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27 August 2015

How Technology is Changing Trades and Services

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) recently released a report that cast doubts on the stability of a large number of jobs in Australia. The report suggested that automation and artificial intelligence might replace up to forty per cent of Australian jobs. That amounts to five million jobs being classified as ‘high probable’ to be replaced entirely by automation.

The report suggested that jobs across all industries were under threat, from the health industries right through to physical labour.

What were the factors that were likely to ensure job stability and certainty? If we can find out which aspects computers and artificial intelligence will not be able to replicate, we may be able to move ourselves into more secure jobs in the future. Or, we may find ways to boost the relevance of the job we currently hold.

This is advice that is particularly important for manual labourers. Although manual labour is often considered on of the most vulnerable industries, there are also big opportunities for people in manual labour roles to make some tweaks to their practice in order to boost their value and over come the work of robots.

Social interaction

If you work with other people; good. Being friendly and offering exceptional customer service is good for business because it leaves people with a positive impression. It leaves them wanting to come back to you the next time they have a job. Most importantly, a friendly demeanor is something that you can’t get from a computer or a robot.

If you work in a field that is vulnerable to machine automation, developing and strengthening your personal skills the most effective way of ensuring that you maintain your relevance in the future.


All tradespeople know the feeling of having an inspector come on site and tell you what you’re doing wrong. Most often, they’re working from a textbook and have little hands on experience with how things actually work. If your job requires creativity to get the job done, then you are safe from machine replacement. Cabinet makers, for example, often require a lot of creativity to solve problems regarding spacing, cutting & aesthetic choices. Mechanics, in comparison, work within a very strict system that is confined to the complexity of the car itself. If your trade requires a lot of creativity and lateral thinking, you are more likely to be safe from being replaced by your robot counterpart.


This is another protective benefit for those working in the trades and services. If your job requires you to move around a lot, as trades and services often do, you’ll have a bit of an advantage over machines and computers. If you’re a plumber or electrician, for example, you’ll be visiting people’s houses,, which is something that a robot can’t do.


How difficult is it to do your job physically? Machines can be strong, but it’s more difficult for them to be adaptable and delicate. If your job requires you to work in tight spaces, with small components, you may have a benefit over computers that will extend the longevity of your career. 


Professionals in the trades and services often stick to good old-fashioned models and methods. The benefit of new technology is not only cheap labour, but also more efficient systems.  If you can incorporate these systems into your practice now, you may maintain more relevance as the industry changes. How you accept payments, how you keep information on clients and you can be contacted should be processes for which you use technology. The more comfortable you become using technology, the more relevant you will be in the future.

Manual labour is often considered the first to be replaced when the technological revolution begins pushing out humans in favour of machines. However, the trades and services are, in some ways, better protected than other fields. By focusing on the qualities discussed above, you can maintain relevance in a turbulent, unpredictable future.