The world of work is constantly changing. Back in the 1980s, the idea of working as a social media manager or web developer was unthinkable. Today, they are highly sought-after positions. So what kind of jobs can we expect in the future? And what can we do if we find ourselves suddenly replaced by technology?

Almost 40% of Australian jobs that exist today have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advancements, according to a 2015 report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

Artificial intelligence (AI) alone is set to put nearly half of all manufacturing jobs in the United Kingdom at risk in the next 15 years, according to the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. And it’s not just heavy industries that are under threat – positions in administration (37%), accommodation (26%), real estate (28%) and even arts and entertainment (22%) are also at risk of disappearing.

Almost 40% of Australian jobs that exist today have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advancements, according to a 2015 report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

In other words, there is a very real likelihood that our current jobs will not be relevant in the future. But don’t panic. Just because our current jobs may not be needed that does not mean we won’t be. Indeed this could be an opportunity to find work that speaks to our calling or venture into new areas that reinvigorate our sense of purpose.

As I explain in Career to Calling: How to Make the Switch, “callings change as you do, shifting over a lifetime,” as we enter new life stages and our priorities change. In the same way, our focus may move in new directions to adapt to the changing realities of the workplace.

So what does this look like in practice? Let’s say we are replaced by a robot or a machine or some other technological advancement. We may feel scared, lost or useless. But it’s important not to let these feelings overwhelm us. Now is the time to find clarity and ask ourselves the important questions: What is my calling? What am I happiest doing? How can I adapt this to changes in the workplace?

Remember it is our special mix of life experiences, abilities and values that set us apart from machines. As Forbes contributor Vishal Marria explains, “humans will always outperform machines in jobs requiring relationship-building and imagination.”

An interpreter for example may find themselves out of work because translation technology has become so advanced. This person could channel their passion for languages in a new, more personal direction, turning perhaps to novel writing or voice acting.

By looking inward we can find the answers that can lead us to our next opportunity. But remember too that there are practical steps we can take now to stay abreast of potential changes.

Here are some tips:

  • Stay alert for signs of new opportunities: “When we focus on what we are aiming for, the mind will pick up information it may otherwise have ignored.”
  • Embrace the chance to upskill and broaden your area of expertise.
  • Invest time in understanding the world of work. The World Economic Forum, career websites and professional associations are good sources of information.
  • This is a good way of staying on people’s radar and learning about the latest news in your industry. You never know who you might meet at a networking event and where the chance encounter could take you!

Final thoughts

Change can be disruptive but it can also the wake-up call we need to stop, take stock and decide if the path we are on is leading us towards or away from our calling. When thinking about the future, ask yourself: What interests and passions could I explore further? What are my transferable skills? How might technology change the industry I work in?