These 5 Technologies Are Disrupting the Workplace and Displacing Workers

  • Self Checkouts
  • Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Mobile Banking
  • Automated Bridge Toll Collectors
  • Unmanned Factories
  • Cloud-Based Accounting Software

There are numerous ways technology is replacing traditional jobs. So far, automation technologies have had the most dramatic effect on low-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. These workplace changes mean that, in the future, it may not be realistic for a high school student to think that s/he can skip college and expect to be able to earn a living. Just take a look at the types of jobs that automation technology has been replacing.

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1. Self Checkouts

Grocery stores and some other low-end retail stores have built self-checkout stations to allow their customers to ring up, bag and pay for their own purchases. One store employee can supervise multiple self-checkout stations, which has the capability to greatly reduce the number of cashiers the stores must employ.

2. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Mobile Banking

ATMs have already put countless bank tellers out of work, and experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that the trend will continue. A new up-and-coming technology known as the “enhanced ATM” is proliferating in the finance niche. These enhanced ATMs can perform even more of the tasks that bank tellers used to handle. Auto-deposit, Internet, and mobile banking technologies are further reducing the need for tellers as people handle more of their own banking tasks independent of bank branches.

BLS analysts are forecasting an 8 percent decline in the number of bank teller jobs that will be available by the year 2026. This translates to roughly 41,800 bank tellers’ jobs that will be lost to technology in the near future.

3. Automated Bridge Toll Collectors

In the past, when commuters crossed a toll bridge, there was usually a human toll bridge collector there to take their money and issue them a receipt. Nowadays, technology is enabling automated payment systems at toll booths. reports on a current example of this in the UK known as the Dartford Crossing, which is east of London. Instead of paying at the bridge as commuters used to, officials have designated a new payment system known as “Dart Charge” that drivers must use. Going forward, commuters will have to make Dart Charge payments online, by phone or by mail.

4. Unmanned Factories

Robots are performing increasing numbers of the tasks that humans in the manufacturing industry used to do. In some cases, this is making humans’ factory jobs more efficient. In others cases, robots are completely replacing human factory workers and decimating the numbers of jobs available.

Techrepublic reports a story about a cell phone manufacturer in China that has been able to replace 90 percent of their human workers with robots. This particular factory transitioned from employing 650 human workers. At this point, they only need 60 humans to supervise the robots that are now performing the work. They expect to further reduce their headcount to only 20 human workers in the future.

5. Cloud-Based Accounting Software

Many cloud-based accounting software programs offer automated technologies such as automated bank reconciliation. This makes the process of bookkeeping faster and more efficient than it has been in the past. As companies adopt these technologies, they require fewer bookkeepers and accounting clerks. BLS experts expect to see these workers transition from manual data entry roles into positions that require more expertise with analyzing their clients’ finances and advising them how to spend their resources more efficiently.

These are not the only jobs that robots have been replacing. Even more types of jobs are at risk for replacement or consolidation in the future. This is a wake-up call to both high school students and current workers. High school students need to give serious thought to their future career paths; after graduation, it would be silly to waste time applying for jobs that are destined for extinction. Likewise, it would be a huge waste of resources to train for a career that robots are taking over. Those who are currently employed will have to learn new skills if their jobs are at risk for elimination by automation technology. To get and remain employed, humans will all have to become much more educated about the ways technology is replacing traditional jobs.