Amazon Go could bring death to 3.4 million jobs in the US

Scan an app on your phone. Grab your groceries. Walk out. And your account would be automatically debited based on your virtual shopping cart.

No human interaction required. No long waiting times for the checkout counters. No more having to tolerate rude or indifferent service staff.

All these to be coming to a store in Seattle, Washington, in early 2017.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 3.4 million people are employed as cashiers, 4.5 million are hired as salespeople and 2.4 million as laborers who move and stock inventory.

This game changing store could undoubtedly bring disruption to how consumers shop for and purchase their food, necessities and groceries. But the biggest disruption happens to those whose jobs are replaced by technology.

What insights can the job seeker or working professional take away from this?

Change is normal

We live in a world of change and disruption. Things are changing and things have changed.

There’s Uber disrupting the taxi and transportation industry. AirBnB disrupting the hospitality/hotel/accommodation industry. And self-service kiosks replacing counter staff at McDonald’s.

Do not be shocked or offended by change. The rate and intensity of change would only increase over time.

Those who blame the change or complain about the change are usually the ones who do nothing to keep up with the change. They defend the status quo and hope things remain the same. These are usually the ones who would be displaced by change.

Move from job security to career development

If you are store cashier, obviously you would be threatened by Amazon Go. I won’t be surprised if you are offended by this upcoming disruption.

But remember, being a cashier is a job, not a career. It does pay the bills, but does it change the world?

Start to move away from job security to developing your career, value add and contribution to the marketplace.

Learn the tricks of the trade. Be remarkable. Play a bigger game. Be so exceptional that they can’t ignore you. In fact, aim to be indispensable.

A job merely pays the bills and is transactional. A career is aspirational and transformational. Know the difference.

Go from lower-skill to higher-skill

According to a Deloitte report on the impact of technology on jobs in the UK, here are some key highlights:

  • The UK has benefited from a technologically-driven shift from low skill and routine jobs to high skill and non-routine jobs, over the past 15 years.
  • Over 800,000 jobs have been lost, but 3.5 million new ones created.
  • The 800,000 lost jobs tend to be low skill and routine; the 3.5 million new ones tend to be high skill and non-routine.
  • Each created job (high skill, non-routine) paid approximately £10,000 per annum more than the lost job (low skill, routine).
  • Every nation and region of the UK has benefited from the technological shift, where a net £140 billion in value has been added.
  • In the future, businesses will need skills like: digital know-how, management capability, creativity, entrepreneurship and complex problem solving.

The question here is where are you at and where do you want to be?

If you are currently performing a lower value and highly-routine job like a clerk, administrator, cashier or assembler (electrical and electronic parts), just to name a few, you are hit by at least an 85% probability of automation.

This means that you ought to upskill and upgrade yourself or risk being replaced, displaced or disrupted.

Disrupt yourself

In a careers workshop which I conducted not too long ago, I shared that we need to disrupt ourselves first, if not something/someone else would do it for and against us.

To attain excellence, we need to disrupt average.

We need to continuously learn, stretch, challenge and reinvent ourselves. You are your greatest asset, so be intentional in investing in yourself.

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

What worked in the past might be irrelevant in the future. What’s amazing today might be mediocre tomorrow.

Keep pushing yourself because opportunities go to those who are ahead of the curve, while those behind the curve have to chase after opportunities.

What’s your next move?

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