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These tech jobs may disappear in the face of automation

Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita and Emily McCormick discuss tech jobs that may disappear due to automation.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: We've talked a lot about how robotics and automation have replaced some of the low skilled jobs in the market. But could artificial intelligence now be looking to replace some of the coders? Emily McCormick is here with that story.

And Emily, this is an interesting one, because we always talk about how coders are really essential to the tech growth that we have seen. And yet, you've looked into this. What's the outlook?

EMILY MCCORMICK: Well, Akiko, just taking a look at the question overall of how automation is really growing in the labor market as a whole, now is really the time to be asking those kinds of questions, since automation and machine learning really tends to accelerate from downturns like the one that we're in now, of course, because companies are looking to cut costs and make work more efficient.

Now a report from McKinsey in September this year actually found that of 800 executives surveyed, nearly half of them noted that their use of automation had accelerated moderately. And about 20% of them reported significantly increasing automation during the pandemic.

Now, as you mentioned, a lot of times, we think about automation in terms of displacing lower wage service workers like cashiers and truck drivers. But there have also been recent developments that have allowed companies to make more efficient the work of software developers and coders themselves to the point that they might not need to hire the volume of workers typically required to perform certain job functions.

Now, a Brookings Institute paper from November of last year that ranked professions on their relative exposure to AI listed computer programmers as third most exposed, following market research analysts and sales managers. Now, exposure doesn't necessarily mean they'll be entirely replaced. It could also mean that their work is being complemented by some of these developments.

But just taking a look at some of the innovations over the past couple of years, you have the rise of low code and no code movements that have really allowed people with no technical backgrounds at all to generate web applications without needing to write any code actually themselves.

And if we take a look at some of the big tech players, we have Amazon recently this year actually launching a program called Honeycode that lets users build web and mobile apps without code. This venture backed startup called Bubble that offers a similar service.

If we take a look at Amazon SageMaker and Google Cloud's AutoML, those offer services that build and train machine learning models for tens of thousands of their customers, so really streamlining the need here for some of those entry level data scientists and even level two data scientists, if you go up the job functionality.

Now I do want to highlight that taking a look at labor market data, a lot of times, anecdotally, we hear about a shortage of high skilled tech workers. And the Bureau of Labor statistics does note that software development employment is expected to grow 22% between 2019 and 2029, or faster than the 4% growth rate of overall occupations.

But what I found speaking to researchers is that, really, it's the shortage of workers and this mismatch between supply and demand that has made it more important for those that are in the market to actually create these programs to stem that deficit. So, a trend to continue watching here in the labor market in the next decade, Akiko.