Six jobs that can’t be stolen by robots

As labour automation becomes a reality, robots are no longer just the domain of sci-fi movies and paranoid conspiracy theorists.

Six jobs that can’t be stolen by robots
Photo: iLexx/Depositphotos

Self-checkouts and robot vacuum cleaners are one thing, but what impact will the Robocalypse have on your career? 

Malmö University specialises in education that promotes a sustainable future and a fairer society. With a strong focus on innovation, the University prepares students for an ever-changing job market, fostering the sort of skills that will still be needed even if machines do eventually take over. 

Check out these six robot-proof jobs you can do with a Malmö University degree.

1. Criminologist

Understanding why people commit crimes demands one crucial skill that robots don’t have, namely being able to comprehend why people behave and react the way they do. 

Want a career in crime that pays? 

Malmö University’s two-year master’s programme in Criminology offers a gateway to careers in risk-assessment, crime prevention, juvenile offending and victimology.

Understanding criminal activity means being able to grasp complex social factors like gender, race, class, mental health and substance use, to see how they shape the lives and experiences of perpetrators. According to a 2013 Oxford study, jobs that require this kind of social perceptiveness are at low risk of automation.

2. Sports coach for elite athletes

Careers that require the skills to inspire and nurture, like coaching, are among the least likely to be traded in for machines. When it comes to providing training and guidance, humans simply blow the computerised competition away. 

Don’t want to be left on the bench? 

Malmö University is offering a new master’s programme in Sport Sciences. Job opportunities range from working with elite athletes to sporting federations or public health sectors.

Sports coaches, whose work involves encouraging clients to strive for their goals, are unlikely to be surpassed by robots any time soon. Robots might work well as referees but would probably short-circuit when it comes to tapping into people’s drives and motivations.

3. Biomedical engineer

You might think any occupation involving engineering would be hit hard, but biomedical engineers hold an advantage in the face of robot-infiltration. For one, biomedical engineering involves innovation — thinking up new ways to use technology to advance human health. 

Fancy a career printing pancreases or finding a cure for cancer? Apply for Malmö University’s two-year master’s programme in Biomedical Surface Science.

Working with new technologies like stem cell engineering and 3-D printing of biological organs demands ethical considerations. Robots might be able to point you in the direction of the nearest checkout-less store, but they don’t have a moral compass — something integral to solving ethical dilemmas in healthcare.

4. Refugee support worker

If there’s one thing that robots are light years away from acquiring, it’s empathy. Which is why the jobs of the future will be the ones that require emotional intelligence.

If you are dedicated to the protection of persecuted minorities, you may want to consider a degree in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University. 

Providing support for marginalised or vulnerable populations, such as refugees, is one of the jobs in which empathy is key. Emulating feelings, however realistically, is not enough for these kinds of professions. While robots who are programmed to recognise and respond to facial expressions and body language are already on the market, their capacity for detecting emotional nuance is in short supply. 

5. Diplomat/ EU civil servant

A successful diplomat has a flair for negotiation and persuasion which are, according to research, important qualities that robots lack. Pursuing a career in politics or policy-making could ensure the polls are in your favour.

Even rising to the ranks to the position of diplomat is laden with robot-proof job opportunities. The future of the EU might look a little shaky right now, but there is no shortage of jobs which require the human touch. Bots, as it stands, are still bamboozled by bureaucracy.

Malmö University offers degree programmes in Political Science, International Relations, European Studies and Human Rights. Find out more about how to apply.

6. Interaction designer

Interestingly, interaction design is a profession that is very much at the intersection between humanity and future technologies. 

As the title suggests, interaction design is about creating products, often within digital media, that are based on human behaviour. When the robot revolution comes, interaction designers may very well be the ones crafting our collective downfall. However, in order to get there, they will need to come up with original, innovative ideas — something robots can’t get their tin heads around.  

Toying with the idea of working in a creative field? Check out Malmö University’s master’s programme in Interaction Design.

Click here to see a complete list of all English-language programmes taught at Malmö University.

This article was sponsored by Malmö University.

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How the chatty robot Franzi is cheering up German patients

Cleaning robot Franzi makes sure floors are spotless at the Munich hospital where she works, and has taken on a new role during the pandemic: cheering up patients and staff.

How the chatty robot Franzi is cheering up German patients
Franzi at the Munich hospital where she works. Photo: AFP/Christof Stache

“Can you move out the way, please? I need to clean,” trills the robot in German when people block her pre-programmed cleaning route.

“You need to move! I really want to clean!” she squeaks at those who still don't get out of the way. And if that doesn't work, digital tears begin to stream from her LED-light eyes.

“Visitors are not allowed in the pandemic, so Franzi entertains the patients a bit,” says Constance Rettler of Dr. Rettler, the company in charge of cleaning the Neuperlach hospital that provided the robot.

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Three times a day, Franzi bustles through the clinic's entrance hall, her feet automatically mopping the floors. Amused patients take photos of her, and some even stop to chat to the metre-high robot.

“Ah, there you are my friend,” cries one elderly lady with a drip on her arm upon catching sight of Franzi.

“One of our recent patients came down three times a day to talk to her,” smiles Tanja Zacherl, who oversees hospital maintenance.

Extra employee

Created by a company in Singapore, Franzi was originally named Ella and spoke English before coming to Munich early this year.

Yet her German is perfect as she tells her interviewers that she “never wants to grow up” and that cleaning is her passion.

When prompted, she can also sing classic German pop songs and even rap.

Franzi on the move. Photo: AFP/Christof Stache

Rettler is adamant that the robot is not taking jobs away from real human beings but instead is supposed to “support” her flesh-and-blood colleagues, who have become harder to come by during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the pandemic, there is lots of extra disinfecting work to be done in hospitals,” says Rettler.

“While Franzi is cleaning the floors, our employees can concentrate on doing that.”

A robot has its limits however. It is still unable to get into tight
corners, and if it hits an obstacle, it bursts into tears and remains stuck until rescued by a human.

Yet Franzi also has a reason to be cheerful. After a test phase of several weeks, she appears to have settled in at the Neuperlach hospital.

Rettler's company has therefore decided to keep her there permanently rather than deploy her elsewhere.

READ ALSO: How robots could shape Germany's political future