So you survived the end of the Mayan calendar and a string of other apocalyptic forebodings in 2012. But as we look to 2013, how will you live through one of the more certain transformations on the horizon?

Anna, turns out you've chosen the wrong occupation…

For most of us, our working life plays a big factor in defining who we are. I was talking to a smart and resourceful Generation Y woman the other day and mentioned I was going through my third round of redundancy in six months.

The last two times, unlike some of my dear friends and colleagues, I have been fortunate to be redeployed in another role matching my broad experience. I hope it will be third time lucky again in 2013.

Anyway, the woman in her 20s was recently made redundant from two part-time jobs and is now balancing two more part-time positions. This made me realise that for many of her generation a full-time permanent job has never been a reality.

Not since the Industrial Revolution has there been such a dramatic change in the means of production and in the job prospects of so many people.

Looking back on 2012, it has been an annus horribilis for many people employed in manufacturing, maintenance, the media and public service - among the sectors worst hit.

Thousands have lost their livelihoods and have had to reassess their future. The technological revolution, combined with the ongoing global financial crisis, has turned upside down people’s lives and the way businesses are run.

Rather than survival of the fittest, it has become a case of survival of the smartest. The demands of higher productivity, eliminating duplication of resources, technological innovation and cost-cutting have been part of a necessary reassessment of every business and government.

Jobs that were deemed essential a few years ago have become expendable and the remaining staff have been required to adjust to the new business models.

Many new jobs have arisen that require multi-skilling or a new set of skills, but the overall number of employees in many companies has been reduced.

With that in the forefront of my mind, I have decided to ponder the future adopting a 2020 vision of occupations that will not be needed.

So here is my prediction of 10 jobs that are likely to disappear by the end of the decade.

1. Supermarket checkout operators

The move towards self-checkout aisles will see the elimination of the need for checkout chicks or chaps. Some will be redeployed to keep an eye on customers to make sure they wave their purchases through the price scanner correctly, but the number of supermarket (and retail) staff overall will be greatly reduced. Time to check out of this job.

2. Printers/compositors
The writing is on the wall. Digital is already killing the newspaper stars in the media landscape. Printer and compositor jobs are in decline. If you are in this area of expertise it’s time to look for a new trade.

3. Newspaper sub-editors
As print media revenue dips to unsustainable levels and papers close around the world, the profession of the sub-editor (that’s the person who makes copy fit the space in the newspaper or magazine and writes the headline) will become obsolete. Digital multi-media will replace paper products and the role of the sub-editor will morph into a multi-skilled news producer or another title like that.

4. Telephone operators
Voice-recognition technology is still hit and miss and foreign call centres handle most of our phone calls to big companies. But by 2020 social media and text communication will replace the need to make a voice phone call. Many of the people in these jobs will become digital service consultants using an array of communication sources to connect customers. Talk is cheap, but technology is even cheaper.

5. Telemarketers
“Phone blowing” will likewise become redundant as digital sales pitches replace the human telemarketer. At the same time, social media will promote relationship building with customers in a whole new way. Time to hang up your headset.

6. Film processors
The rapid uptake of digital cameras has already led to the closure of most film processing outlets. The same fate applies to film-based production of motion pictures. Any skill relating to film is on the cutting room floor.

7. Shoe craftspeople/repairers
These jobs are walking out the door. I have a comfortable pair of shoes I have owned them for 13 years. Every couple of years I get them resoled or reconditioned - they are still extremely comfortable. But as shoes become increasingly cheaper to make the cost of repairing or custom-making footwear will become unviable and this craft will die.

8. Meter readers
The trend towards making smart meters compulsory in all homes and businesses will make sending someone out to read a power or water meter redundant. The clock is ticking on this occupation.

9. Mail sorters
The traditional postal service is becoming more of a parcel delivery service as letter writing becomes a dying art and online shopping takes up a bigger chunk of postal resources. Watch the full automation of the mail sorting process finally end the role of the human.

10. Data entry
This job will completely disappear as innovations such as voice-recognition technology and data scanners replace the keyboard operator.

It’s a gloomy outlook for these occupations, but life is full of changes. The bottom line is we all need to be prepared to transform ourselves and boldly face the future. For those of you who have lost their job in 2012, my heart goes out to you. But remember for every door that closes a new one opens.

Comments on this post will be made redundant at 8pm AEDST.

Most commented


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    • ZSRenn says:

      06:44am | 31/12/12

      I love a good oxymoron. “Smart and Resourceful Gen Y” indeed.

    • chicken scratchiings says:

      10:00am | 31/12/12

      I love people who don’t have a poor understanding of the english language and use words such as oxymoron.
      I suspect they are closely related to the second half of the word.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      11:17am | 31/12/12

      @ZSRenn, nice to hear how you feel about Gen Y… The generation that has to be smart and resourceful to fix your generation’s foul-ups.

    • PJ says:

      12:07pm | 31/12/12

      all these jobs are taken by temporary workers on 457 visas

    • expat says:

      07:19am | 31/12/12

      Look at the likes of Freelancer & Elance, the roles that can be outsourced on their is truly staggering. I started using the service 12 months ago and have been seriously impressed with the talent pool, quality of work and affordability.

      The future is contracting!

    • craig2 says:

      07:31am | 31/12/12

      Anna Bligh, what a charlatan she was. Set up the hopes and dreams of thousands of public servants and paid them by borrowing to the tune of 1 million dollars a week, money the state didn’t have. This also men’t that the employment figures stayed artificially low. The harsh reality of a heavily indebted state and a declining revenue stream saw the Newman government having the show those people employed in an unsustainable environment,  the door. Thanks Anna, thanks for nothing.

    • Greg says:

      09:31am | 31/12/12

      craig2 - too right mate. Bligh, Fraser and Beattie have absolutely stuffed Queensland, and then all run off tails between legs. The inquiry into the health payroll debacle should see some ALP/UNION heads roll - only Labor can turn a payroll software upgrade into a BILLION DOLLAR black hole. I am not exaggerating when I say that seeing photos of any of the three ALP/UNION criminals makes me physically sick. And now they are leeching off Queenslanders taxpayers dollars in their ‘retirement’. LABOR is doomed in this country - wait and see. We cannot have a political party that is also a union and full of incompetent fools that REALLY would not be employable in any other industry.

    • Mattb says:

      12:10pm | 31/12/12

      That’s funny, ever since Bligh etc left Queensland the place has gone backwards.

      Sure, I agree, Labor needed to be turfed out up here as they had become stagnant and stale, but the replacement has been the biggest joke in political history, the way it’s going they’ll be one term wonders..

    • Rickster says:

      04:05pm | 31/12/12

      You submarinelanders deserve all you get, bring back Joh and go and feed the chooks!

    • Bruce says:

      07:34am | 31/12/12

      We could all go and work for the Taxation department. There’s a growth industry !!

    • Borderer says:

      09:02am | 31/12/12

      Actually that’s not a bad idea. Not raising new taxes, but actually collecting those in place already (except carbon tax and MRRT, they’re just poorly thought out). Also centralise fine collection with the ATO, it’s funny how people who dodge fines also cheat on their taxes. People pay parking tickets when they know a tax audit will be coming if they don’t. Our governments can actually collect their revenue and stop hitting honest folk with new taxes to make up the shortfall.

    • sunny says:

      08:16am | 31/12/12

      Damn it - I was hoping Parking Inspectors would be on that list.

    • nihonin says:

      10:31am | 31/12/12

      But what about their families sunny, think of them, think of the children wink

    • Mayday says:

      08:20am | 31/12/12

      Just as vinyl records faded and are now returning I have a feeling that books will also find a resurgence.

      I received an e reader for xmas and as much as I appreciate the gift for the life of me I just don’t like using it.

      In comparison to books this gadget is cold and lifeless, it lacks soul whereas books have a wonderful feel, smell and look as well as a longevity as they sit on shelves adorning rooms.

      Call me old fashioned but for me the sensory rapture books bring are not being met by the glass and plastic of a Kobo.

    • SKA says:

      09:39am | 31/12/12

      Totally get where you are coming from! Although I’m a bit addicted to my kindle - the convenience factor is great and works for me because I have limited space for storage - I got through 200+ books in the year before I got my kindle and having nowhere to keep them is very depressing (I hate throwing books out, all of them made it to Lifeline but then seeing as people don’t seem to be buying physical copies as much, I don’t know if that is helpful to Lifeline or a pain). I reckon people will start buying hardback books again. Every time I find a book I really really love and would read again, I buy a hardback copy. Have to be very selective and fussy about it though. So far the collection includes an illustrated massive version of Lord of the Rings among others. When it comes to travel books, I’m a big fan of the large illustrated hard copies.

    • LJ Dots says:

      01:37pm | 31/12/12

      Mayday, I’ll agree with you on that. I’m happy with tech gadgets left right and centre, but I do find the e-readers are lacking a certain something when it comes to the reading experience.

      Fortunately, there is a solution - see

    • Terry2 says:

      08:44am | 31/12/12

      Data entry replaced by voice recognition technology ! Now there’s a plan for chaos: have you ever received a text of a voice message on your mobile ?

    • Alicia says:

      09:19am | 31/12/12

      I hate those “leave a message and it will be converted to text” things. I don’t leave messages because you don’t get to see what the message looks like.

      I think there is a long way to go before voice recognition technology is at a level where humans are no longer needed. More than a decade.

    • John says:

      09:26am | 31/12/12

      Working gets you know where these days, I wonder if it’s more for-filling doing nothing. The society is just based on debt slavery, one person working and spending for the sake of others. It’s society with people at the top won’t lift a finger to get the people they are living off the backs off out of their terrible financial position. Then they have the nerve to stick their heads up high for the pride of their wealth.

      You might earn 800 a week, 200 goes to rent, 100 to other things.
      You have 500 a week to save, the house’s are costing 800k. It will take you 32 years to save up 800k, if you take out the loan early, it will take you 50 years with all the interest.  That’s even if you able to maintain work for that period. You may, just rent for the rest of you life, that’s just another dumb thing.

    • PW says:

      03:04pm | 31/12/12

      Bzzzzzzt. You can’t buy an 800k house on 800 a week. Try a 250k house instead. There’s plenty of them out there.

    • acotrel says:

      10:09am | 31/12/12

      Technology was touted as being the future for Australia.  Now we have godd engineers and scientists ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go’.  It is not the unions, the miners or the Aussie dollar which are to blame.  It is the luddite mindset of many politicians who have no vision or ability t o make progressive decisions.

    • Mayday says:

      02:57pm | 31/12/12

      The silence is deafening as far as the Unions are concerned in relation to the automated check outs at the supermarkets.

      They are steadily increasing in numbers just like the youth unemployment figures.

    • Rickster says:

      04:11pm | 31/12/12

      Those new check outs are great, they don’t no the difference between ordinary tomato’s and gormet vine rippened tomato’s so get the best and pay for the cheapest.

    • Gordon says:

      10:23am | 31/12/12

      If you subeditors rebadge yourselves blog moderators i reckon you’ll be the last employed people on earth! nothing will shut this lot up, and somebody has to sperate the incoherent .rants from the regular kind

    • vox says:

      10:43am | 31/12/12

      Good news from Liberal Party Headquarters though. No redundancies at L.B.H. we are told. Those trolls and tools and troglodytes who make up the front line of the Liberal “Forward to the Past” Brigade, (sometimes called ‘The Chinese Whisperers’), are there forever.
      All thanks for this must go to the C.E.O. of the “Back to the Sixties” movement, one Anthony Abbott, who single handedly has rallied nearly 8% of Australians to his cause of “Me for P.M.!”
      Some call him not too sensible, and some call him incomprehensible, but most don’t call him at all. I’m told by one journo that he is, contrary to common belief, that he is the easiest of Australia’s politicians to interview. That’s because he doesn’t need to be present, (Abbott that is), for the interview to be conducted normally. That’s gotta’ be a plus for an aspiring P.M.. He can give multiple interviews in a myriad of locations, say, Paris, London, Bondi, and on and on, all simultaneously.
      Don’t you just love politics in Australia.

    • nihonin says:

      12:10pm | 31/12/12

      That has to be good news for you vox, your job is safe, the Labor party will keep you on to contradict them..  wink

    • vox says:

      02:45pm | 31/12/12

      Actually nihonin, I’d love to have a job with the ALP. I support them wholeheartedly, but I don’t get paid for that. I get my reward from reading your incisive, masterly replies to all ALP posters and your wit, your cutting wit, which just leaves people like me floundering for answers.
      I get the distinct impression that you may have been Abbott’s scriptwriter at some time because his intellectual responses to every challenge put to him by the media are remarkably similar to your contributions here. No complications like reason or logic, just short sharp, (always sharp) comebacks such as “Labor tool”, and “Shit happens!”, and “Women can’t perform at the male level”, that sort of thing.
      If I’m right, (and unlike some I would never claim to be right without proof), you taught him well. If you didn’t then it’s just a Liberal coincidence.
      Happy New Year all.

    • My son is a printer man says:

      10:51am | 31/12/12

      My son works in the printing industry and it is far from a dying industry. People who think that the printing industry consists solely of newspapers or advertising materials have never taken a walk through their local supermarket and looked at all of the packaging that is printed, not to mention the labels on everything.

      As long as we have packaging that requires information printed on it, or bottles etc with labels,  we will have printers and printing companies run off their socks to get the work done. In fact my son does work for a major pharmaceutical and vitamin company, the lead up to christmas was full of overtime for him, happy $ days!

    • stephen says:

      05:37pm | 31/12/12

      I and so many others will be buying online, where the ‘printing’ will be not on paper or plastic, but on a screen.
      Printers are a dying breed - sorry to say it now, and I am one such animal, but a while ago - and that so many will not actually see a word specifically and understand a sentence - this is the true problem with computers, in that they never, ever, being a composite of a two-way communication, (as we are encouraged by the people in that industry who have something to lose if consumers do not buy their products) are able to correct meaning.
      And if the speaker or computer writer does not understand the meaning of a word, (as computers do not facilitate, being a literal antagonist to experience, not to mention understanding) then they will not be able to mean properly a sentence.
      Then they - us, I mean - will not be able to understand why we are here, or do things, and why someone does things that we may not like.

      The paper information age is very important.
      But the ‘Information age’, by definition, has abandoned the feel of print, and it is this subtraction that will define the end of real knowledge.

    • Daniel says:

      11:56am | 31/12/12

      I have been made redundant and so have most of the other people that I worked with before. Luckily we have mostly been re employed. Its not a good thing and employers are just only thinking about money and profits.

    • tez says:

      01:52pm | 31/12/12

      @ Daniel: Not that easy being an employer either buddy.

    • Troy Flynn says:

      01:54pm | 31/12/12

      1. Supermarket checkout operators

      The move towards self-checkout aisles will see the elimination of the need for checkout chicks or chaps. Some will be redeployed to keep an eye on customers to make sure they wave their purchases through the price scanner correctly, but the number of supermarket (and retail) staff overall will be greatly reduced. Time to check out of this job.

      This is exactly why I refuse to use them.
      One job which should be growing due to on-line purchases. Delivery drivers.

    • MartinX says:

      03:48pm | 31/12/12

      You forgot blacksmiths. Their numbers have crashed. Also, they guys who used to hang off the sides of the garbage trucks, pick up your bin, empty it and throw it back in the general direction of your house.

    • Anjuli says:

      05:31pm | 31/12/12

      @ Rickster .Now you have pointed out the error what is the betting all tomatoes will be the same price ,it won’t be the cheapest one either maybe some where in the middle.


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