THE RISE OF THE PRECARIAT PART 2: Employment Impact of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs)

If a student in your class is planning for a career in an occupation that may not exist within 20 years, how will you support that student with career planning?

Learning for Life is no longer a phrase thrown about by “educrats.”  Encouraging students to develop adaptability, critical thinking skills, and resilience, in addition to becoming “life long learners” will be the key to their ability to thrive in constantly changing, shrinking, disappearing and emerging occupations and careers throughout their lives.

 Autonomous, or “self-driving,” vehicles (AVs) are predicted to have a rapid, profound and widespread impact on certain occupations and labor demand as we head towards 2020. “More than 30 companies say they are just a few years away from introducing autonomous vehicles to the mass market. ….there could be a relatively rapid transition. This is likely to cause significant pain in a number of communities, as well as exacerbate the losses of good jobs.  It would be prudent to strengthen our safety net and labor market to absorb a shock from autonomous-vehicle technology.”


Photo from CNBC

 AVs will contribute to the decline and rise of certain occupations and will also ripple out far beyond industries directly reliant on driver operated vehicles. 

 Professional driving is not the only job that will face disruption and risk. If autonomous vehicles are safer, automation could affect the workforce throughout the “crash economy” through a decreased demand for labor in auto insurance, auto repair and body shops, health care, and legal services. 

Driving occupations are dominated by men and represent a significant source of work for those with lower levels of educational attainment, with the vast majority (93.2 percent) of workers in these jobs possessing less than a bachelor’s degree.(Driverless)Trucks don’t get pensions, they don’t take vacations, it’s purely dollars and cents,” CBC

AV mining2

Photo from CNBC

Scott Santens: “we are potentially looking at well over 10 million American workers and their families whose incomes depend entirely or at least partially on the incomes of truck drivers. … According to Morgan Stanley, complete autonomous capability will be here by 2022, followed by massive market penetration by 2026 and the cars we know and love today then entirely extinct in another 20 years thereafter.”(Basic Income 2015)”


While the impact of AVs on jobs and occupations will be rapid and “potentially crippling”experts suggest that there is still time to prepare. Social upheaval can be mitigated to some extent through preparation by Government and Educational Institutions to ensure that communities  have access to career planning, training,  and retraining and possibly providing a basic income to affected workers.

Many new careers and occupations will arise – some predicted, eg. Repair technicians for AVs, some not even imagined. Encouraging students to develop adaptability, critical thinking skills, and resilience will be the key to their ability to thrive in constantly changing and emerging occupations and careers throughout their lives. 



In 2015, there were 15 million workers in these occupations. (US stats)

  • Trucking
  • Taxis
  • Rideshare
  • Buses
  • Trains
  • Marine vehicles
  • Emergency responders
  • Construction equipment operators
  • Government services
  • Postal services
  • Delivery and courier services
  • Garbage removal
  • Snow removal
  • Warehousing
  • Landscaping
  • Shipping
  • Mining
  • Forestry
  • Fishing
  • Tourism


  • Insurance industries
  • Health Care: Emergency services
  • Health Care: Rehabilitation services
  • Legal work related to traffic injuries & fatalities
  • Law Enforcement –Traffic divisions
  • Autobody repair
  • Automechanics
  • Heavy Equipment Repair
  • Home Repair and Installation
  • All aspects of Manufacturing
  • Food services
  • Retail industries
  • Wholesale trade
  • Recreation and travel



CBC (2016) Oilsands workers worry driverless trucks will haul away their jobs

CNBC (2017) Self-driving cars could cost America’s professional drivers up to 25,000 jobs per month, Goldman Sachs says.

OCE (US Office of the Chief Economist (2017) Employment Impact Autonomous Vehicles

Financial Post (2018) Suncor is building a fleet of 150 driverless trucks that will cut 400 jobs over the next six years.

Medium (2015) Self-Driving Trucks are going to hit us Like a Human-Driven Truck: The imminent need for basic income in recognition of our machine driven future

Globe & Mail (2015 & 2017) Driverless trucks could mean game over for thousands of jobs.


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