Business Degrees in the Age of Automation

It’s not hard to see how automation is changing the nature of work in the U.S. From bank tellers to checkout lines, machines have begun to take on responsibilities formerly handled by human hands. Even outside the service industry, many assembly lines are now staffed by robots, displacing the manufacturing workers who once comprised the backbone of the U.S. economy. 

To be sure, the job market is currently undergoing a radical transformation, upending old industries and creating new opportunities for enterprising individuals. That’s why it’s vitally important that you stay ahead of the increasing trend towards automation when deciding on your educational path.

What is Automation Anyway?

Automation is any task-based process that furthers the production of goods and services without the direct involvement of humans. Though humans may still be required for maintenance or occasional troubleshooting, they are unnecessary for the routine operation of such automated processes.

Automation may have begun with large, clunky machines performing rote tasks like on an assembly line, it has now reached into the information technology space and is even capable of working collaboratively with employees at small businesses.  

There are a number of jobs that will be strongly affected by automation in the coming decade; some usual suspects include cashiers, telephone operators, postal service mail sorters and crop farmworkers. Some jobs that will be affected may seem surprising, such as travel clerks, air traffic controllers and laboratory technologists. With the growth of machine learning algorithms and smarter artificial intelligence, even the medical and investment finance fields are being carried along the wave of automation.

The bottom line, though, is that most professions will be affected to some degree as a result of the continued advances in automation. Oxford University researchers have estimated that upwards of 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. could be automated in the next couple decades.

How a Business Degree Curbs the Trend

Only workers with a significant stock of what economists refer to as human capital will be able to weather the storm with ease. After all, a future where robots can replace the creative intelligence or interpersonal communication skills of humans is not yet in sight.

Such human attributes are key indicators of success in a business environment, and so it is necessary to cultivate networking and negotiation skills in order to stay relevant in the face of ongoing automation. Robots may be able to achieve a lot today and even more in the future, but leadership skills such as project management and workplace delegation requires interpersonal savvy beyond the scope of a computer script.

Pursuing a business degree is the surest way to develop the very human attributes that will be necessary even in the face of the impending future of automation and give you a leg up in the modern workplace. An online bachelor’s degree in business covers foundational knowledge in the fields of economics, marketing, and accounting so that you can be a well-rounded contributor in any business environment. Virginia Wesleyan University’s online program was designed to give you the foundational skills you need to adapt and thrive in a modern business world.

For those looking to stay ahead of the competition, our online MBA program provides flexible, hands-on lessons in principles of business, finance, marketing and more. At the end of the program, you will have advanced knowledge of leadership and communication skills vital to managerial success.