Manual testers are irreplaceable

One of my tester friend has built his career on manual testing and was telling to me that manual testing seems to be losing its place and is often considered as the easiest of jobs. Automation is becoming the order of the day.

How often one find these comments - Lets cut down on manual testers cost by hiring less qualified person. Not longer can one afford to be manual tester only and you need to have coding skills too. The focus is on delivering high quality product first time. Quality should be built in and not checked in.

I pity the situation of manual testers who should find it insecure and often feel that they have made a wrong decision by choosing the profession.

There are obvious truths in the changing trend in industry and the need to be cross functional. I beg to differ in the aspect that manual testers are becoming less relevant.

1. 80% of defects in organization have been reported by manual testing.
2. There is truth in automating high ROI scenarios / use cases and in perspective of regressions. However, the reality is not just about ROI scenarios if the risks around scope, time and costs are not addressed appropiately and unfiromly across the organizations. Mistakes will be made during the process of so called quality code and they will only go undetected by performing organization. 
3. How robust is your automation coverage? How are you ensuring coverage of not just statements but also all conditions and branches along with so many permutations and combinations which often need to be validated? How about platforms and combinations and risk of dependency on simulators during automation?
4. In most of the development projects, there is not adequate development effort to spend on automation while developing. Also the truth is that when the code base is continually changing there is no point in automation from end user perspective. You could try TDD and pair programming but dont forget the fact that its not fool proof. Infact its often less then effective without adequate development team participation.

Having too less of manual testing effort and over reliance on automation is a sure shot way for poor quality.