Shell explained why some of the conventional wisdom about the future of work is misguided and offered pragmatic advice for people entering an increasingly automated job market. She warned that the most at-risk jobs are “mid-skill” ones that are expensive for employers, which includes most software developers.
“It’s not necessarily the low-level routine jobs that they’re most excited about automating,” she said of computer scientists. “They’re actually very excited about automating more high-level complex jobs because those people cost more. If you want your bang for your buck, you automate a high-level, expensive job, okay?”
And she noted that planning for the future isn’t as simple as just saying, “I’m going to learn to code,” since becoming a new coder means throwing yourself into a job market where cheap outsourced labor is already abundant around the world. The so-called STEM “skills gap” has been promulgated by tech companies because those are skills they need right now, but not ones that will guarantee long-term financial security.