Top 10 jobs most likely to disappear in the near future

Top 10 jobs most likely to disappear in the near future 31 januari 2016

Can you imagine  the mail carrier never walking through your street anymore? Or taxi’s disappearing from your city’s street scene? We got used to the way our society has been functioning for decades. A lot of people might not realise that we are transitioning to another phase when it comes to labour. But we definitely are. Will you still be a part of the labour market within 20 years? Than you should start thinking about another career for the future. Or when you are about to start, it’s probably best you don’t pick these jobs and you choose your education wisely. During an insightful TED Talk McAfee suggested that the increased productivity from sophisticated machine and computing power will lower prices and reduce “drudge”. Technology  is developing at fast pace and innovative solutions are rapidly integrating in our society’s lifestyle. What are the consequences for some jobs within of 20 years from now?

1. Postal-service worker / mail carrier

Postal services in a lot of countries have a long, glorious history. In the middle part of the 19th century, it offered a stable career with decent pay. And today? Well, now we have e-mail and pick-up and delivery service companies. And services of such kind are increasingly influenced by technology. Take for example the rise of drone-based delivery, that already has been in development by Amazon for a while now. Also the sharing economy brings forth initiatives that are launching delivery solutions, like UberRush. Your mail or package will soon not be delivered by traditional postal services anymore.

2. Taxi and delivery drivers

For taxi services there have been developed a bunch of apps for the last couple of years. The taxi fleets big cities used to have are slowly transforming into a herd of private drivers, affiliated with apps like Uber and Lyft. However, apps on smart devices aren’t the only concern taxi networks face. Also ridesharing apps like Toogethr, the forerunner of ridesharing apps in the Netherlands, are filling transportation gaps. Another example of reducing the need for taxi’s are platforms dealing with mobility issues by better linking passengers with transportation options, for example Google Maps and Plannerstack. Before we know it, people transportation and deliveries of packages might soon be carried out by ridesharing, drones and driverless cars.

3. Newspaper reporter

Every day over a million blog posts are published. This is a huge threat for the future of traditional printed media. Besides that, freelance writers are competing to pitch their stories to top online publishers. Also Careercast included newspaper reporters as a dying breed in its 2014 list of the most endangered jobs. The jobsite predicted the profession will decline by 13 percent in the coming years as consumers continue to read the news online. Furthermore, news apps are enabling mobile users to catch up on current events while waiting in line or riding public transportation. Advertisers are shifting over to online media as well.

4. Lumberjack

This is a job we don’t have in The Netherlands, but this industry has been providing a lot of people worldwide with jobs. As we are gradually shifting towards a greener and more sustainable environment, we are replacing paper products for digital ones. In the US the lumberjack has been marked as one of the disappearing jobs. At a certain stage, I believe all comparable manual labour will be replaced by advanced technologies and due to more sustainable solutions.

5. Librarian

Fact: librarians can be very helpful. If you ever written a research paper, you probably discovered their added value. How easy it is for them to manage and navigate around the gigantic library collection is amazing. They point you to the correct source and provide great complementary ideas. Another fact: Librarians are becoming too expensive. They work ‘limited’ hours, while online library services are open 24/7. Besides that, are they as fast and effective as a search engine? Unfortunately not. Therefore, universities and public libraries are moving their library services to online platforms.

6. Teachers

Teachers likely to disappear? Yes indeed, some of them. They are unlikely to become fully extinct, but a lot is changing in the educational systems. Online learning is causing a true revolution in teaching models. Online learning platforms like MOOCs and SPOCs are popping up like flowers in the spring. For example, MIT currently offers over 2000 courses online. In the future, I expect there will be fewer teachers and professors and more coaches, course designers and learning camps. It’s not that there will be less teaching jobs, but it’s about fulfilling a new need in the market.

7. Travel Agents

Savvy sites that allow you to book your own vacation by using booking websites such as Kayak, Couchsurfing and Airbnb. They are ultimate answer for mobile users who prefer speed over personal service. co-founder Rob Rawson wrote in his blog that websites provide a custom-made service that rivals even the most efficient human travel agent. So, do we really still need a dedicated travel agent to purchase your air fare or plan an itinerary? With Bing Travel, Google Flights and quite a collection of other flight-search engines, finding cheap tickets and booking low-prized rooms is becoming very easy. What do you think the chances are that we’ll still see this profession within 10 years?

8. Air Traffic Controllers and Pilots

Technology is already heading towards intelligent automation in air traffic. John L. Petersen, pilot and opinion leader, wrote that drones and other unmanned carriers will become part of the global aircraft fleet, due to the combination of ubiquitous connectivity, increasing bandwidth, advanced sensors and decreasing cost. Doing research and collecting information for weather and flight plans will be taken over by artificial intelligence agents. This will cause less need for traditional pilots and traffic controllers.

9. Farmers

As things get more and more automated, the less people will be needed to run things manually. This means no agricultural workers that need to be walking up and down the fields to pick plants. Technology is becoming increasingly efficient. A massive autonomous machine will pick plants or sow faster. Also cheaper compared to paying a complete workforce. Soon one or two people can run an entire farm. A new era for agriculture.

10. Cashiers

Self-checkouts in stores or at gas stations are becoming a commonness in the payment landscape. Mostly it’s faster for the customer and cheaper for the store owner. Although today’s technology is often still requiring people to individually have their items scanned by a human, I expect that in the future you’ll even be able to put all your items in the cart and walk out of the store without passing a cash register. A smart scanner will probably scan all the items within seconds and charge your account. Really convenient, except when security measures prevent you from leaving due to insufficient funds…

Next to these 10 jobs there will be a lot more jobs that will change drastically or disappear. I’m very curious to read about the jobs you think will be subject to changes through technology and innovation? Let me know!


This article was originally published on

About Arjen van Berkum Arjen van Berkum is columnist, motivator, bon vivant, innovation fan and visiting lecturer at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). He is founder and Managing Director of Betula Services. At Betula Services they believe in co-creating the best possible value chain. They have the answer to complex issues surrounding Resource Management, driven by innovation, leadership, HR processes and performance management. By making you successful Betula Services gradually phases themselves out - the result of co-creation.

Twitter: @arjenvanberkum