NO COFFEE BREAKS REQUIRED: UMass Lowell Professors Beth Humberd and Scott Latham stand with a robot at the New England Robotics Validation and
NO COFFEE BREAKS REQUIRED: UMass Lowell Professors Beth Humberd and Scott Latham stand with a robot at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center, 110 Canal St. in Lowell. They published a paper in the MIT Sloan Management Review last fall proposing a framework to consider the threat of automation to different jobs. COURTESY OF ED BRENNEN, UMASS LOWELL

LOWELL -- Electricians and plumbers will probably weather the rise of automation. But pharmacists -- watch out.

That's according to analysis conducted by two University of Massachusetts Lowell professors using a simple framework they say offers insights to which professions are most and least vulnerable to automation.

"There's all this guidance out there about what organizations should do with all this automation and robotics. How can it make you more efficient? What are you going to do to retrain your workers?" said Assistant Professor Beth Humberd. "And there was really surprisingly very little helping individuals know what to do in the context of their career."

Humberd and Associate Professor Scott Latham co-authored a paper published in a fall 2018 issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review. The short paper has generated buzz online as people have tried to apply the framework to their own jobs.

Meeting in Brew'd Awakening Coffeehaus in Lowell and scribbling on napkins, Humberd and Latham considered jobs based on two dimensions: the "type of value these jobholders delivered and the skills they used to deliver it." Based on their findings, jobs were sorted into one of four categories: durable, deconstructed, disrupted and displaced.

However, what they found was the conventional wisdom, which viewed jobs requiring higher education as secure and blue collar jobs as vulnerable, was incorrect.