Seniors Step into an Unpredictable Workforce

By: Lucy Jones As I watch my sister complete her fourth year of college—now with an unexpected twist—it’s clear the struggle she’s facing: no formal graduation, no chance for celebratory travel and, most alarmingly, a widespread hiring freeze. As for her life’s next venture, only more uncertainty awaits. She’s questioning when and how she’ll be able to get a job. And what will the job market even look like in and immediately after a pandemic? 

 She is not alone in her confusion. Although scenarios vary for graduating seniors, their futures in the workforce will undoubtedly be dramatically affected by the coronavirus. 

The pandemic has caused a need for a rewiring of our world as we know it, and it seems that today’s youth will soon be at the forefront of the changes it will produce. Will this mean more virtual working? A greater reliance on artificial intelligence?

“I have never really put much thought into the details of my career, but after this whole mess, I definitely want a job that would allow me to work remotely,” senior Shea Campbell said.

Working remotely, an idea that used to be a luxury for a few specific lines of work, is now a concept embraced by workers across the world. Whether it be telemedicine or virtual home tours for real estate, working remotely is one of the few safe ways people can make ends meet right now. Of course there are many heroes who continue to work on the front lines, who must work and expose themselves to keep our world from crumbling—packers, shippers, delivery personnel, grocery and retail clerks and more who risk their lives everyday so that we can acquire the goods we need (or think we need). It is the combination of these two groups that are keeping us all afloat.

Yet another system that is keeping the world together is artificial intelligence, or AI. But such technology now begs the question, “what occupations will stay intact and not be replaced by AI after the pandemic has subsided?”

“In the medical world, thousands of jobs have already been replaced with more precise and less time consuming artificial intelligence,” said Ed Boyle, a local surgeon and co-owner of Inovia Vein, which specializes in vascular surgeries. “Although at my practice, our foundation is built off of human interaction, something that a robot simply can not produce.” 

Human-to-human contact is obviously unfeasible at this time, though much of the world, and the workforce especially, needs personability to maintain its viability. Teaching is one such example. Real Estate is another.

“In real estate, we really dont have much AI at all,” said Beth Davies, principal broker at LivBend Real Estate. “We occasionally use virtual tours if a potential buyer can not attend a showing, but talking with a client is far better in this line of work.”

Even though AI is a technological advancement that will only continue to proliferate, don’t worry—not all jobs, or even most, will be replaced by AI. And while working remotely will undoubtedly become a necessity for various sectors of the workforce, we’ll still need many of those face-to-face positions that we rely on today. Still, graduating seniors would be wise to consider jobs that will survive future pandemics and technologies.

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