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6 jobs which became obsolete in 2020

Samantha Menzies
·Contributing editor
·3-min read
Coronavirus Covid-19. Australia quarantine, 100 dollar banknote with medical mask. The concept of epidemic and protection against coronavrius.
Image: Getty

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on Australia’s workforce. As is usual in times where an economy is under strain, Aussies limited spending and businesses tightened their purse strings in 2020, which had a knock on effect for jobs in a wide range of industries.

What is unique for 2020 is Australia also saw an accelerated loss of unemployment in industries with workers in routine manual jobs and sectors which have struggled to operate under mandatory shutdown and the imposed social distancing rules.

Life is slowly returning to normal, but the economy is still struggling and even despite generous stimulus packages announced in this year’s Federal Budget, Australia’s unemployment rate is expected to worsen as workers look to rejoin the workforce.

Meanwhile, jobs in some sectors may be lost forever.

Here are six jobs which vanished in 2020.

1. Factory worker

Many businesses, especially factories which were already looking into artificial intelligence, are ramping up automation in response to new social distancing measures, reduced spending and/or higher volume.

If a robot can do the job quicker, cheaper and more accurately then you can consider it off the market for everyday Aussies.

2. Travel agent

It’s unclear what our travel industry will look like in a post-COVID world. But with so much information easily available online and encouragement to avoid face-to-face contact where possible, it’s difficult to see how travel agents wouldn’t become obsolete, especially those in physical shops.

Meanwhile, there may be a boom in demand for automated and virtual travel agents when our international border opens and travel resumes.

3. Receptionist

The traditional office environment is a thing of the past and face-to-face meetings have been replaced with virtual ones. Given so many Australian companies have decided to adopt a remote-working culture to remain covid-safe while simultaneously streamlining costs, demand for a receptionist role has all but disappeared.

4. Hotel desk clerk

Another customer facing role which has depleted since travel restrictions and social distancing rules have been imposed. Unnecessary face-to-face contact with customers both adds risk of spread and is also a job which is easily replaced with technology.

Why meet a hotel desk clerk to check into your accommodation if you can check in online en route and gain direct access yourself?

5. Customer service agent

Many call centres reduced their staff in 2020, moving many to work remotely while the COVID restrictions were in full force. Others instead turned their attention to chatbots as an alternative to interaction with a live customer service agent - a change that is unlikely to reverse in future.

6. Switchboard and telephone operators

Both telephone and switchboard operators are mostly losing their jobs to technology.

The new normal of remote working, combined with development in the digital age means the need for these types of jobs are obsolete as large businesses no longer need someone to route calls to employees or take messages.

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