simon pykett twitter @nerdoftheday

Follow me on Twitter


Teacher, techie, daddy, nerd. Often all at the same time. Teacher of Computer Science at @utcplymouth and #dev for various individuals.

Download My Resources

I have been developing and distributing teaching resources via TES for some time. You are welcome to download some of them here. For more information, please visit my TES shop for more free and premium teaching resources.

will i lose my job to a robot

Will I lose my job to a robot?

Published on 29th July 2017 by Simon

The most jobs that are likely to grow over the coming ten years (source: US Bureau of Statistics) include Software Developers, Nurses, Labourers, Customer Service Roles and Teachers. If you are employed in the latter field, your job is highly unlikely to be taken over by an automated machine. In terms of expected and predicted growth and the annual salary, teaching is one of the clear winners. Other jobs might pay more, but future demand is a fraction of what it is for teachers.

In the battle for the 21st century, computers are winning however there are some jobs that automation just can't replace. In the years leading up to the Industrial Revolution, inventions such as the Spinning Jenny were considerably frowned upon to the point of being destroyed. The working population did not appreciate or understand how machines would enable people to be more productive and efficient. However, the population was right; this was the very start of the taking over of the machines. Forget Arnie, he isn't about to tread heavily into your classroom and start teaching advanced flower arranging to your pre-school group, but the intention to make our workplace more streamlined has been apparent for longer than we think. But there are some jobs that just can't be replaced.

Thanks to advances in technology and artificial intelligence, several products are now on the market and within the public domain that are commonplace and the hype about them is over. Automated personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa are all AI of sorts and can control the devices in your house, ping you news and social media alerts and can tell you the weather in Japan, but the device that the tech emanates from is static; unable to do any more than live in your pocket. So how can this little piece of tech stop you from earning the big bucks? In short, it can't. To be a teacher requires a high level of emotional intelligence and even though computer scientists are working on this at present, we are a very, very long way off being even close to an automation takeover.

Your teaching role requires and expects you to have several different kinds of hat; you are a mentor, a guide, a parent, a bastion of knowledge (of every subject under the sun) and above and beyond everything else, someone who can be an excellent tour guide! Designers of automated systems can't even begin to think of how they can achieve this as a robot could not give advice to a child about a family argument, nor could it give a detention to a child if they are late for the umpteenth time that week. The programming that would be required for automated and 'human' responses to such requests would be considerable and certainly at present, impossible.

Interestingly, the process of learning without an actual teacher is not a new concept at all. Companies such as Linguaphone, who were founded in 1979 used to sell cassettes (in fact I think they still do) so you could learn a language in the comfort of your own home. This company is still going today and shows that the humble audio cassette has not replaced, but is an alternative to sitting in a classroom and interacting with another human. However, and somewhat ironically, if you're learning a new language, mixing with others is probably quite important! Just a thought. it is even possible to learn pretty much anything from our friends over at Youtube. A language, pretty much all musical instruments under the sun and how to bake bread are all at your fingertips ready for consumption. So is the human teacher on it’s way out? No, in short. Teachers are required for many different roles and they have a very hard job, and predominantly, they do it very well indeed.

In short, your job is safe, at least for the foreseeable several hundred years or so. Your job as a teacher is an important one that society as a whole appreciates, even if your disgruntled students' dad doesn't!