2018 Job Automation Report by

Food and beverage services to lose the most jobs by 2030.

Sci-fi writers and conspiracy theorists have been predicting the rise of robots for decades and now automation is just around the corner. If you're a fast food cook, server or counter attendant, there's a good chance you'll hand over your job to a robot by 2030 with an estimated 525,155 jobs threatened.

About this report

We analysed figures from Oxford's Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs To Computerisation? and matched them with the number of employees in each industry to get an estimate of jobs threatened per industry.

Industry ABS Number of Employees Chance of automation Jobs threatened*
1. Food and beverage services 846,000 62% 525,520
2. Store-based retailing 702,000 60% 421,200
3. Administrative services 602,000 64% 385,280
4. Food retailing 439,000 81% 355,590
5. Property operators and real estate services 345,000 88% 307,050
6. Agriculture 407,000 45% 183,150
7. Food product manufacturing 218,000 79% 172,220
8. Road transport 273,000 54% 147,420
9. Personal and other services 305,000 47% 141,927
10. Construction services 713,000 19% 135,470
11. Professional, scientific and technical services 776,000 17% 131,920
12. Social assistance services 319,000 20% 63,800
13. Medical and other health care services 378,000 12% 45,360
14. Residential care services 275,000 5% 13,750
15. Preschool and school education 249,000 4% 9,960
Total 6,847,000 3,038,617

*This number was taken by multiplying the amount of jobs in an industry (2015-16 Australian Bureau of Statistics) by the average chance of automation for jobs in that industry (Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment).

Top 15 "at-risk-of-automation" industries

fastfood1. Food and beverage services

Jobs threatened: 525,520

What jobs does this include? Food Service Managers, First line supervisors, Fast food cooks, Counter attendants

2. Store-based retailing

Jobs threatened: 421,200

What jobs does this include? Retail sales workers, Retail salesperson


3. Administrative services

Jobs threatened: 385,280

What jobs does this include? Administrative support workers, Administrative service managers, Executive assistants, Secretaries


4. Food retailing

Jobs threatened: 355,590

What jobs does this include? Food servers, non-restaurant, Hosts, Hostesses, Food cooking


5. Property operators and real estate services

Jobs threatened: 307,050

What jobs does this include? Real estate sales agents, Appraisers and assessors, Real estate brokers, Property managers


6. Agriculture

Jobs threatened: 183,150

What jobs does this include? Farmers, Ranchers, Graders and sorters of agricultural products, Miscellaneous agricultural workers


7. Food product manufacturing

Jobs threatened: 172,220

What jobs does this include? Food batch makers, Food prep


8. Road transport

Jobs threatened: 148,717

What jobs does this include? First line transportation, Bus drivers, Light truck drivers, Heavy truck drivers


9. Personal and other services

Jobs threatened: 147,420

What jobs does this include? Personal financial advisor, Personal care aids, Personal service workers


10. Construction services

Jobs threatened: 141,927

What jobs does this include? Construction and building inspectors, Architectural and engineering managers, Electrical engineer, Civil engineers


11. Professional, scientific and technical services

Jobs threatened: 135,470

What jobs does this include? Medical scientist, Biological scientist, Healthcare practitioners, Social Science Technicians


12. Social assistance services

Jobs threatened: 63,800

What jobs does this include? Mental health social workers, Healthcare social workers, Social and Human services assistants, Social services research assistants


13. Medical and other healthcare services

Jobs threatened: 45,360

What jobs does this include? Medical scientists, Emergency medical practitioners, Medical assistants


14. Residential care services

Jobs threatened: 13,750

What jobs does this include? Childcare, Rehabilitation counsellors


15. Preschool and school education

Jobs threatened: 9,960

What jobs does this include? Education administrators, Preschool teachers, Secondary school teachers, Middle School teachers

Which jobs are least likely to be automated?

One quarter of Australians fear redundancy due to the increased use of artificial intelligence

If you’re worried that robots could be eyeing off your job, you’re probably wondering whether there are any occupations that may be less prone to automation than others.

The good news is that if your job requires creative thinking, social intelligence or human logic, you probably won’t be replaced by a robot any time soon.

University of Oxford: There are jobs that still can't be replaced

In The Future of Employment report published by the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, the authors looked at the susceptibility of different jobs to computerisation. They found that certain occupations were less prone to computerisation in the coming decades.

Doctor performing surgeryOccupations requiring:
  • A high degree of creative intelligence, such as a fashion designer or artist.
  • Complex perception and manipulation tasks, such as a surgeon.
  • A high level of social intelligence, such as public relations.

Conversely, if you think your job could be at risk of automation, it’s important to educate yourself about the employment changes that could be coming your way. This will allow you to plan ahead and consider your other career choices as the automation revolution continues.

Is job automation a bad thing?

A 2017 study conducted by research firm Telsyte found that one-quarter of Australians fear redundancy due to the increased use of artificial intelligence and automation. While unemployment is a real risk in the short term, it's easy to forget that there are actually plenty of long-term benefits to look forward to when robots take over some of our jobs. AlphaBeta’s The Automation Advantage report estimates that automation could deliver a $2.2 trillion boost to Australia’s national income between 2015 and 2030.

Key benefits of automation

  • Repetitive work tasks are automated. Machines will unburden the average Australian of two hours of tedious and manual work per week over the next 15 years.
  • Dangerous jobs become automated. Workplace injuries will fall by 11% as dangerous manual tasks are automated.
  • Workplace satisfaction. 62% of low-skilled workers will experience improved satisfaction as their dull routine tasks are replaced by stimulating and satisfying tasks.
  • More valuable jobs will be created. Jobs that can’t be automated will pay almost 20% more than automatable tasks, so Australian workers will be able to reap the financial rewards of higher pay.

While unemployment is a real risk in the short term, it's easy to forget that there are actually plenty of long term benefits

Automation is set to dramatically change the way we work in the next few decades, and change of any kind is always accompanied by upheaval. But the rise of the machines definitely isn’t all bad news, and by planning ahead you’ll be well placed to tackle whatever employment challenges the future holds.

Are dangerous jobs actually being automated?

Six of the top fifteen jobs to be automated are also considered dangerous (red).

We cross matched the predicted number of jobs being automated with our dangerous jobs analysis.

What's the answer to job automation?

It depends on who you ask. While there are long-term benefits of robots taking over work, job losses (at least in the short term) are something that needs to be addressed. Here's what some of the experts think.


There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income - Elon Musk

Retrain and transition workers at risk

Lower skilled workers would likely lose their job to automation. The Automation Advantage report suggests that by ignoring these workers (to save on expenses) would create an even larger cost in the long term. Some ideas to counter this risk include:

  • Community college subsidies for lower skilled workers
  • Government policies that provide higher educational support
  • "Learning credits" that can be used for government approved training courses (this has been implemented in countries like Singapore)
  • Union-backed learning programs to up-skill union members

Push automation for lower risk workers

The benefits of automation can help higher skilled workers perform their job more efficiently eg speeding up repetitive tasks with robots so that these workers can focus on more creative human tasks. Some examples include:

  • Deregulating the robotics market
  • Trialling Robots for delivery services eg drones
  • Government investment into automation

Educate younger people for the future

For younger people opportunity lies in preparing them for the workforce of the future. This means establishing technological skills that are relevant to a tech-reliant environment. Some examples include:

  • Teach high schools STEM skills (Science Technology Engineering Maths)
  • Combined work and training programs that focus on future skills
  • Introducing programming in school curriculums

Universal basic income

The idea is to provide people with a basic level of income that allows them to pay for their basic needs eg shelter, food and living expenses. Even one of the worlds biggest tech pioneer Elon Mask believes "There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation".

If a robot takes my job, will income protection cover me?

There are key exclusions that would likely cancel out your redundancy cover in the event of job automation.

If the future really is as bleak as some people predict, will income protection insurance cover you if your job is taken by a machine? In short, no.

Income protection is not usually designed for redundancy. Its purpose is to help cover some of your salary if you’re unable to work due to illness or injury. Most policies can provide an ongoing monthly benefit that covers up to 75-85% of your pre-disability earnings.

You can use this replacement income to pay your bills, keep paying your mortgage or rent and generally keep providing for yourself and your family until you’re fit enough to return to work.

But I thought there were redundancy options for income protection policies?

You’re right. For an additional premium, you can usually include involuntary redundancy cover in your income protection policy. However, automation is likely to be excluded and here's why:

Why automation is excluded

There are key exclusions that would likely cancel out your redundancy cover in the event of job automation, including:

  • You are notified or aware of your redundancy within a certain time period, eg six months.
  • It comes as a result of sickness/injury.
  • It’s considered voluntary redundancy, eg you agree to a redundancy payout when your job is automated.
  • It’s publicised in mainstream media/a public announcement.
  • The business goes into involuntary redundancy.
  • You are made redundant during a probationary period.
  • You are made redundant because of criminal or illegal activities.
  • You refuse to take any reasonable retraining.
  • It’s due to poor performance.
  • You are made redundant because of a strike.

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