Navigating the Changing Landscape of Obsolete Jobs

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In the face of advancing technology, concerns about obsolete jobs are growing. Many individuals wonder if their jobs are in danger of being ‘replaced’ by robots. Especially with the rise of AI! The fear around this topic might seem new, but people became afraid of technological evolution long ago…

A highly cited study conducted in 2013 by Oxford University academics examined 703 common occupations to reveal the jobs that were most at risk of becoming obsolete. According to the study, called The Future of Employment, some jobs almost had a 100% chance of being automated.

A decade after the study was published, have these predictions come true or do these jobs still exist? Using search data and job adverts, we discovered the current state of the 12 jobs marked as the least future-proof.

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Check our findings for each job below:


For those who might not know, a telemarketer is a phone-based sales representative who tries to sell goods or services to clients via calls. In this social media climate, many sellers have adapted by cutting out telemarketing in favour of social media adverts.

If you add the rise in sales regulations and the increasing use of automated systems in customer service departments, it’s clear why telemarketers are not that popular anymore. However, there are still around 5,400 monthly average searches for this job in 2023 and 152 job ads on Indeed, so the profession hasn’t gone completely extinct.

Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers

In the real estate industry, these three professions played a crucial role in making sure that the ownership of a property is clear and free from any potential legal issues. Their primary role is to look into the history of a property’s ownership and make sure everything is fine. As the name suggests, a title examiner looks into the documents related to a property title, to find any problems that could affect the transfer of ownership.

The abstractor creates a summary of the findings in the property’s title research, and the searcher looks into public records and gathers information about the title.

However, in a digital world, where most of the records and official documents are a click away and the institutions choose to communicate with each other online, these three professions are less needed. The data indicated that there are still between 260 and 880 average searches a month for each job, but zero job ads are available at the moment.


A seamstress is a person that sews textile goods, such as clothes, by hand. Now that clothes are mostly produced using all sorts of machines there is no wonder that professional seamstresses are less needed. However, there are small countries and closed communities where clothes are still made by hand. The data shows that there are 1,000 average monthly searches for the job and 93 job listings.

Mathematical Technician

For those wondering if anyone actually applies all of those mathematical principles, techniques and tools learned in schools, the answer is yes — a mathematical technician. This specialist applies mathematical formulas, analyses data, and conducts experiments to develop mathematical models, algorithms, or computer programs.

As you might’ve already guessed, mathematical formulas can now be stored in a computer and implemented digitally, making the job role unfortunately redundant. According to the new research, just around 30 people are looking for this job online monthly and there are zero jobs currently available.

Insurance Underwriter

Most adults will likely have insurance coverage at some point, whether it is for property, health, or pets. The person that determines the terms of the policy is an insurance underwriter, who ensures that insurance companies take on reasonable risks and charge the right price for it.

Even if it is a highly important role, the process has become more automated in the last few years, which is reflected in the data. Although 2,400 people are looking for this position online, there are zero job adverts available.

Watch Repairer

As we become less interested in fixing the things we already own and more open to replacing them, fewer people will pay to get their watch repaired. That is why this is not a job that people tend to look for, with just 210 monthly average searches, and definitely not one that someone will look to hire for as there are currently no job adverts.

Cargo and Freight Agent

A cargo and freight agent is the person that coordinates the shipment of cargo, such as materials or products, by handling paperwork, taking care of the documentation and arranging pick-ups. These agents usually work as the intermediaries between the people sending the goods and carriers, but this process was lately automated. There are now zero searches per month for this job and just 55 adverts.

Tax Preparer

One of the scariest tasks for adults is doing their tax returns. Things are however made easier with professional help, such as the tax preparer, a person capable of helping individuals and businesses to complete the documents for tax purposes. In the last few years, online tools that can help with taxes have been built, so people are not looking for tax preparers that much. The data shows that there are 200 average searches per month for this job and 16 job adverts.

Photographic process worker

As social media took over our lives, we all started storing memories online rather than on paper, making printed photographs less popular. Unfortunately, this made the role of a photographic process worker — a person who helps to develop and process pictures in a photo lab or studio — obsolete. The data shows that there are no monthly searches for this job or any job adverts.

Processing machine operator

Just like the name suggests, a processing machine operator operates and controls machines used in different industries that might be used to shape, cut, or assemble different materials. The operators perform necessary routine maintenance and ensure the process works smoothly. Most of these responsibilities can now be done automatically, resulting in zero monthly searches and just 298 adverts for this job.
By observing the absence of any job advertisements currently and the significantly low search activity related to some of these professions, it becomes evident that 8 out of the 12 jobs mentioned in the study have indeed become obsolete, such as title examiners, abstractors and searchers, mathematical technicians or insurance underwriters.

In the case of certain professions, like telemarketers, the occupation has not completely vanished but rather adapted to the evolving society. Although the number of telemarketers has significantly reduced, some individuals now engage in creating social media advertisements and designing marketing campaigns.

Judging by the low interest in jobs such as watch repairer or seamstress, we could say that collective social behaviour is also responsible for the disappearance of some of these occupations. Our inclination towards constantly buying new items rather than repairing existing ones might eventually lead to jobs like these two becoming obsolete.

While certain occupations are becoming outdated due to technology, new industries and career opportunities are arising as our society evolves. Robots are indeed coming and they might be taking some jobs, but we have something that will always help us win: the ability to adapt and evolve.

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We gathered Google search data from the past year to find the average monthly search volume for each of these jobs. For a week, we looked into the number of job ads available for each profession on Indeed and calculated the average.

View the data here

If you’re ready to level up your L&D strategy with the help of an eLearning company, check us out here at Skillshub if you are looking for eLearning content.

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Sean is the CEO of Skillshub. He’s a published author and has been featured on CNN, BBC and ITV as a leading authority in the learning and development industry. Sean is responsible for the vision and strategy at Skillshub, helping to ensure innovation within the company.

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Updated on: 30 June, 2023

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