Wage against the machine: The robots are coming

Paul Munnelly
Source: Getty

Depositing money at the bank, booking a doctor’s appointment, or ordering a pint of beer may have little in common today, but it’s highly likely that, in the near future, basic jobs such as these will be carried out by robots.

Existing robotic and artificial intelligence technologies are quickly eliminating a vast number of low-level service sector jobs – but what does automation mean for the white collar sector?

Earlier this year, professor Moshe Vardi of Rice University commented that “we are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task”.

For many, the idea of robots replacing humans is the stuff of dystopian sci-fi thrillers, but as technology advances, the reality is that job candidates need to ensure they stay ahead of the curve. Robots in manufacturing have been around since the eighties and self service machines are the norm worldwide. It was only a matter of time before they inched in on white collar jobs.

Keeping up with the robots

Robot employees are already appearing in future-facing Japan, where a handful of companies are manufacturing robots to carry out human functions. The world’s first hotel staffed by robots opened last July near Nagasaki, fully functioning with robot receptionists, giant mechanical arms and robot porters. Elsewhere, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi unveiled a pint-sized automated customer liaison officer.

With today’s advances in technology and the added pressure of AI’s evolution, the workplace is changing at lightning speed and it’s vital to ensure your CV keeps up to pace.

We’ve found that candidates who invest in the following key skills to future-proof their CV see the greatest interest from potential employers – particularly in City jobs.


Understanding the basics of coding and data modelling will help secure your next job. Coding has become far more mainstream in recent years – kids are taught it in school, and there are few who haven’t dabbled in website building. For those who want to go a little further, software development is another indispensable skill for future gazing candidates – understanding the development of every stage of a piece of software or app, from design through to writing code, will do your CV wonders.


Data is often underestimated, but in reality it drives every sector from finance to marketing and everything in between. Understanding data modelling and forecasting – that is, analysing and monitoring past and present data for trends – will put you ahead of the pack in almost any job interview. Learning the language of data, Structure Query Language (SQL), will give you a strategic advantage over most candidates. Having the ability to understand relational database management systems cannot be underplayed.

The customer may always be right, but preempting what’s right for both them and your employer is big business. A practical use for data, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the driving force behind modern advertising. Have you ever browsed a website, only for it to follow you as an ad days later? Then you’ve already met SEM.

Emotional intelligence

Ultimately, we as humans will always have one competitive edge over robot employees. Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify and manage our own and others’ emotions.

Many jobs such as media, healthcare, design and teaching heavily rely on EI, as some of the most original ideas come from the strangest places, and empathy can’t be taught. Robots may be the future, but for certain jobs, human emotion can’t (yet) be outdone.

Paul Munnelly is founder and chief executive of City Calling

Related articles