Job market trends to be aware of


The future of America is driverless

In his final months on the job, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has been vocal about the pressing need to repair America’s broken infrastructure, and all the ways in which technology will fundamentally change the way we move. With 55,000 employees and a budget of over $70 billion, the Department of Transportation is a massive enterprise responsible for regulating American air, maritime, and surface transportation spaces. But the organization’s directives can have far-reaching implications: the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 established the modern freeway system, which divided communities but also redefined how Americans traveled long distances. In September 2016, the DoT released a landmark autonomous vehicles policy that will speed up the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles: self-driving cars, the report asserted, will save lives and make transportation both more efficient and accessible. The policy sets forth rules for manufacturing and sales of autonomous vehicles, requires companies to share research data with federal regulators, and promotes protection for passenger privacy. Foxx’s vision for US transportation also includes high-speed rail, GPS tracking systems for airplanes, and drones that will replace trucks to deliver goods to your doorstep.

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Oilsands workers worry driverless trucks will haul away their jobs

At the Suncor oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, drivers and heavy equipment operators nervously watch as massive trucks rumble by with no one behind the wheel.

With each passing truck, workers can imagine their jobs slipping away.

“Trucks don’t get pensions, they don’t take vacations, it’s purely dollars and cents,” said Ken Smith, president UNIFOR 707A in Fort McMurray.

Canada’s largest private-sector union, UNIFOR represents 3,400 employees at Suncor and considers the emergence of the automated haulage system, or AHS, a greater threat than any economic downturn in the oilpatch.

The use of driverless trucks is part of a year-long pilot project by Suncor.

Each autonomous truck represents an estimated loss of five jobs, said Smith, who predicts the technology being tested today will put 1,000 workers, some 30 per cent of the workforce, on the unemployment line. And that’s just at the main Suncor mine. There are several other massive mines in the region.

The AHS trucks are being used in an isolated section of the Suncor mine site.

Suncor has contracted the trucks and technology from Komatsu, a Japanese company that is a world leader in AHS. According to information on its website, Komatsu specializes in construction and mining equipment, and first introduced a commercial AHS in 2008.

What happens to construction jobs when robots start building

By 2034/35, almost 20% of Australians (6.2 million) are projected to be aged 65 or over.

One sector already feeling the impact of the ageing population is construction.

In Queensland, the number of construction workers aged 55 and over increased from 8% of full-time workers in 1992 to 14.2% in 2014.

An ageing workforce is likely to increase the need for less physically demanding jobs or maybe technology might address this issue.

Task automation and the industry’s innovation culture are two of the greatest areas of uncertainty for the construction industry.

A new study that developed evidence based scenarios for 2036, depicts how automation and manufacturing could grow in the construction sector, creating more knowledge intensive jobs as a result.

The study explores future technology that eliminates dangerous and difficult tasks, particularly in light of the ageing workforce.

Experts in the industry were asked the extent to which technology would progress and how many or which tasks could be automated.

There was no consensus on this and the other point of contention between the interviewees was how bold the industry would be in its pursuit of new solutions.

The research did suggest the construction workforce will need a broad understanding of digital applications, in addition to traditional project management and communication skills.


The trends analysis and scenario development in the report produced some examples of possible construction industry jobs in the year 2036, including:

Building assembly technician: Someone who oversees robotic systems and examines data feeds throughout the life of a project.

This worker would optimise workflows and make adjustments on real time feedback from clients about design or changes to materials.

Virtual/augmented reality trainers: Breakthroughs in virtual and augmented reality technology could provide low-cost immersive environments where apprentices and trainers can meet virtually in any training situation, such as worksite, factory, design studio – the possibilities are endless.

Building drone operators: These professionals would control and program drones to carry out complex tasks such as site inspections, deliveries and maintenance.

Robot resource manager: Robots in the workplace will need someone to take care of commissioning, software programming, maintenance and re-purposing or recycling of robotic parts.

Keeping track of this exploding field of technology will be a key challenge for the role.