Bookkeepers, payroll clerks labelled “redundant roles”: The jobs that will rise and fall over the next four years

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Many of the jobs that define the way small businesses operate today will become increasingly “redundant roles” over the next four years as new technologies begin to be adopted by employers, according to research published last week.

A recent report compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has shed some light on the future of work, and the results could have widespread consequences for bookkeepers, accountants and small businesses more broadly.

Bookkeepers, payroll clerks, cashiers, accountants, sales agents, lawyers and administrative secretaries have all been earmarked as so-called “redundant roles” in the WEF’s Future of Jobs Report 2018.

Meanwhile, data analysts, artificial intelligence specialists, e-commerce experts and process automation specialists are named on a list of “new roles” predicted to become increasingly important to employers in the coming years.

The role of high-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence and cloud technology are cited by WEF researchers as trends that would change workforces over the next four years.

Roles embedded in digital technologies are expected to grow, while those related to data entry or repetitive tasks are predicted to wane in importance.

The WEF’s research focused on survey data from medium-to-large businesses across the world, together accounting for 70% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A range of employment experts were also consulted in the formulation of the report.

While many Australian small businesses still rely on a myriad of accounting, legal, sales and administrative staff to complete important tasks, dynamics are changing, according to Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) David Fagan.

“[Businesses] need to have a clear line of sight on technological capabilities and what the changes are,” he tells SmartCompany.

“If they don’t do that in the next two to three years, others will do it for them … and they won’t be in business.”

Fagan, an adjunct professor at QUT responsible for its Real World Futures Program, has written a book on how digital disruption is changing the world and believes small business owners need to be paying attention.

He argues business owners will have to transition their workforce from labour intensive tasks of the past to jobs that support automated processes and focus on human-to-human customer interactions.

“The more human aspects of behaviour is what will preserve human jobs,” he says.

“That will then be done best when those human aspects can be combined with technology which will really inform people.”

The WEF’s “redundant roles”

  • Data entry clerks
  • Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks
  • Administrative and executive secretaries
  • Assembly and factory workers
  • Client information and customer service workers
  • Business services and administration managers
  • Accountants and auditors
  • Material-recording and stock keeping clerks
  • General and operations managers
  • Postal service clerks
  • Financial analysts
  • Cashiers and ticket clerks
  • Mechanics and machinery repairs
  • Telemarketers
  • Electronics installers and repairers
  • Bank tellers and related clerks
  • Car, van and motorcycle drivers
  • Sales and purchasing agents and brokers
  • Door-to-door sales workers
  • Statistical, finance and insurance clerks
  • Lawyers

The roles of the future, according to the WEF

  • Data analysts and scientists
  • AI and machine learning specialists
  • General and operations managers
  • Big data specialists
  • Sales and marketing professionals
  • New technology specialists
  • Organisational development specialists
  • Software and applications developers
  • IT services
  • Process automation specialists
  • Innovation professionals
  • E-commerce and social media specialists
  • User experience and human-machine interaction designers
  • Training and development specialists
  • Robotics specialists
  • People and culture specialists
  • Client information and customer service workers
  • Service and solutions designers
  • Digital marketing and strategy specialists

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MatthewAddisonICB
MatthewAddisonICB
2 years ago

The WEF seriously needs to understand what some of these so called redundant roles actually do. They have clearly not defined the job descriptions. The Role of a Bookkeeper is far more than data-entry and is far more than anything a computer is likely to automate anytime soon. True Bookkeepers utiiise the best technology and the best automation tools to assist business to operate effectively, efficiently and then to do the compliance aswell.

The bookkeepers role is developing, it is not redundant.
The report includes what it calls “roles of the future” They are wrong. These roles are being delivered right now and have been for some 20 years. Automation tools and techniques, improved software, streamlined systems:
The True Bookkeepers are already delivering the following “Future” roles:

Data analysts and scientists
AI and machine learning specialists
General and operations managers
Big data specialists
Sales and marketing professionals
New technology specialists
Organisational development specialists
Software and applications developers
IT services
Process automation specialists
Innovation professionals
E-commerce and social media specialists
User experience and human-machine interaction designers
Training and development specialists
People and culture specialists
Client information and customer service workers
Service and solutions designers
Digital marketing and strategy specialists

Different people have different skills but the small business looks for help to implement the above and Bookkeepers are at the forefront of providing these, already.

http://www.icb.org.au

Nina Meiers
2 years ago

The true bookkeeper’s role, based on my experience with a few over the years is they are certainly developing their role.. into ‘Xero heroes’ and nothing more than that.

I believe that EVERY business owner would be better off learning about the money side of their business and get a good accountant, rather than leave it to a bookkeeper to do this. .. But that’s just me. I’ve been burnt by bookkeepers who’s goal was how to get people on to Xero, the curse of the day to day business owner, thinking that because something is linked to your bank account that all is good.

I know exactly where I stand in business now that I learnt the basics myself. It’s quite enlightening and I feel much more in control of my business, particularly when you start counting the costs of the ‘software as a service’ models like Xero. Your book keeper wont’ be telling you that I’m pretty sure or they’ll miss out on their monthly commission. 😉

Tracy
Tracy
2 years ago

Unfortunately, the author of the WEF report doesn’t have any idea of the role of a payroll professional.

I agree, automation, AI, technology, training and qualifications all make payroll jobs more efficient. But redundant…? I don’t think so.

Without payroll professionals, who is going to explain the complex superannuation treatment of ordinary time earnings and why an employee did or didn’t get super on their leave loading, why time and a half isn’t always 150% of your ordinary rate, tax queries on termination pays and redundancies with variable inputs and outputs, and heaven forbid, the requirement of a human (in payroll) to make a decision about how to tax different parts of a payment.

How will a computer or automated process know at which exact point an employee made a decision about whether or not to salary sacrifice a bonus and whether that should be a reportable employer superannuation contribution or not?

Without payroll professionals, which amazing super computer or process is going to explain all this (as well as long service leave entitlements when you move states, what happens to a payment when someone dies,) to employees and managers….?

It’s rare to see paper timesheets and payroll ‘clerks’ keying data in a payroll process these days. This report is yet another underestimation of what actually happens in a pay office.