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Will You Lose Your Job to a Robot?

November 30, 2017
1095 Views

Are robots and other forms of automation really going to take away your job? Find out the risk and the reality of robots, automation and employment.

According to a recent report by McKinsey Global Institute, a leading think tank and management consulting firm, robot automation could take up to 800 million human jobs by the year 2030. With a figure like this, up to one third of the current workforce in developed countries would need to reskill for other jobs before that period.

The loss of jobs to robots has been a talking point since the very first robotic production lines emerged in the 1960s. More than 50 years later, widespread loss of jobs is becoming a real threat.

In manufacturing, a reduction in workforce has already been seen, at least in the most developed countries. However, more jobs could fall to automation in the next few decades, including jobs in legal, finance, and some lesser skilled back office jobs.

Even developing nations won’t be immune to the widespread introduction of automation. China, home to one of the world’s largest labor forces, has recently built its first robot-only factory. The factory owned by Sehnzhen Evenwin Precion Technology, will make almost 1,800 factory workers redundant. Large Chinese manufactures like Foxconn (makers of the iPhone and other devices) are also aiming for automated production lines, which would result in a reduction of up to 30% of human workers in the next five years.

While robots do have the ability to take over highly repetitive jobs that don’t include decision making or direct person-to-person interaction, there are still jobs that will be immune from the rise of AI and programmable robots. Doctors, education staff, hospitality staff are examples of jobs that can’t be performed by machines with current technology and intelligence. Other labor intensive jobs outside of production, such as mechanical work, construction, and landscaping, will likely see no impact from mass automation in other industries.

Will Robots Lead to High Unemployment Figures?

With the increasing prevalence of robots and automation, many traditional jobs will be lost, however, there will be opportunities for reskilling so that emerging roles can be fulfilled. Robot maintenance, programming, and other highly skilled technical roles will grow. The key for the major economies will be finding the right balance of retraining their workforces and introducing new education guidelines so that current and future generations will be able to fulfil the new roles that are created in the robotics and automation industries.

Millions of jobs around the world were lost during and after the industrial revolution, particularly in the agricultural sector. The world adapted and new roles were created. Governments now have the unique opportunity of knowing exactly what is coming, which opens the potential to minimize the social impact of such profound change.

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