How Robotics Will Affect the American Workforce Over the Next 10 Years
There is no consensus on how robotics ‘is most definitely’ going to affect employment and job training in America. Though a lot of doom and gloom stories have filled our minds with a suspicion that we may be replaced with super-intelligent non-living beings that works several times and with greater accuracy than what the human brain can manage – while also delivering direct labor savings – it isn’t as bad as it is being made out to be.
Of course, some jobs will be lost, but that doesn’t necessarily mean employees will be made redundant. They can be retrained to pick up new skills and reallocated to projects.
Also on the bright side is the fact that automation tools are helping employees eliminate repetitive tasks from their daily work agenda and focus on those that leverage their core skills and creativity and problem-solving abilities OR devote more time to profit-generating activities.
For companies, this translates into an opportunity to control labor costs more efficiently and boost cost-competitiveness.
An assessment of the potential impact of robotics on jobs should take into account how machines have fared for companies versus human labor.
Here are some points to ponder over;
- Amazon is now printing books at its local distribution centers and then sending them to customers. This is cutting down on transportation jobs and costs.
- The mining industry has definitely felt the pinch of automation, with human drivers being replaced by haul trucks that drive themselves (another impact of self-driving technology being pioneered by Google).
- According to estimates by the Oxford Martin Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, 47% of total US employment is at risk.
- Last year, carmaker Mercedes-Benz announced that it had traded out some of its production robots for human workers. The assembly line robots were found to be less capable than humans in handling the pace and complexity of customization options for the company’s popular S-class saloon. Apparently, the robots weren’t as adaptable and flexible as humans.
- Some experts are of the opinion that robotics and automation will bring back jobs from southeast Asia to the United States. Robots in the workplace can reverse the trend of outsourcing to cheap labor locations such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and China.
For their part, employees need to embrace new technology and adapt in a rapidly changing technology landscape. Employers should also support the transformation by implementing training programs that empower employees to update their skills.