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Feliz Dia Internacional del Trabajador! On May 1, Latin Americans and workers globally celebrate Labor Day, commemorating the fight for socioeconomic prosperity and dignity for the working class. Fun fact: Labor Day began in 1889 to commemorate the Haymarket Affair, a violent confrontation between striking union workers and Chicago police on May 1, 1886. The US celebrates Labor Day in September because the May date is contentious and associated with chaos.
The global workers movement has come a long way since the 1800s, giving us all benefits like the eight-hour work day (it used to be ten to sixteen!), the minimum wage, paid time off and sick leave, etc. In 2019, the fight for workers’ rights is not over; increasing digitization, robotization, and automation of work will drastically change opportunities and rights for both laborers and professionals.
Unfortunately, Latinxs are the most at risk of losing jobs to automation due to our large involvement in service, retail, hospitality, and agriculture industries where the jobs are mostly manual, labor-intensive, and repetitive—exactly the kinds of jobs that can be automated with artificial intelligence (AI), a.k.a. machine learning. Latinx employees have the highest automation potential at almost 60 percent of all jobs being impacted, compared to Caucasians at 25 percent.
Agricultural laborers may find themselves replaced by robots able to discern, pick, and place produce with more accuracy than humans. And if, like me you’re sitting in an office feeling distant from a farm, I assure you change is coming for office professionals as well. Mobile and web applications have already improved or altogether replaced the work of accountants, stock brokers, lawyers, doctors, and small-business owners, and mass adoption is right around the corner.
The good news is: new jobs will certainly be created with the rise of AI, but they will require new digitally focused skills, which many Latinxs don’t have today, and it will take time for them to learn.
How can you prepare?
In Latinas Should Learn to Code I share job-growth projections in the technology industry and encourage Latinxs to learn programming skills—one way to adapt to a modern digital economy. However, this may not be the right answer for everyone. I urge you to get informed in the following ways to help prepare for a vastly different, technology-driven future:
- Learn about automation in your field: there are countless predictions for the law, education, software engineering, digital marketing, and banking fields.
- Adopt the mind-set and lifestyle of a lifelong learner. The future belongs to those who can adapt as quickly as the technology replacing them.
- If you are considering a career change, read up on high-growth opportunities in the tech industry (like blockchain engineering and cyber security), or at least do your due diligence and choose less-vulnerable fields.
- Dream up and create your own future. The prognostics of jobs of the future are bonkers, and there is no reason you shouldn’t be part of creating them.
Latinx parents are legendary for instilling in their children the importance of education (just ask all the twenty-two-year-old Latinxs with master’s degrees), so let’s take this as an opportunity to renew our commitment to being lifelong learners. Our success in the US will depend upon our ability to continue learning, adapting, and reinventing ourselves.
Originally published by NextGen Collective in 2019.
Michelle Cantos has nearly a decade of international working experience in the U.S., EU, & Latin America – first as a Public Relations specialist, then as a Program Manager for a prestigious fellowship, and now as Managing Director at a coding bootcamp where they train career changers on the skills required to land their dream tech jobs.
She speaks and writes about leadership, the future of work, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at places like Uber, General Assembly, LMHQ, the Anita Borg Institute, and Hispanic Executive‘s millennial brand www.nextgencollective.com.