How automation is transforming the future workplace


Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and other forms of automation are rapidly advancing, providing businesses with significant efficiency and productivity gains. Automation could be the key to reversing the productivity decline since the global financial crisis in major countries such as the United States, the European Union, and Japan. Learn how robotics will affect jobs in many industries by reading this article.

Which jobs, and to what extent, are at risk of being automated?

Our working method will change dramatically due to the digital transition and will be entirely different in the future than it is now. Professions that can readily be replaced due to repetitive procedures and tasks that robots can learn and implement are particularly vulnerable. However, works with a low potential for substitution necessitate innovation and adaptability. As a result, four professional areas will dominate the coming years:

  • Jobs that can be automated entirely are no longer required (e.g., production workers, miners, shelf stockers, harvest workers, truck drivers, office employees, accountants).
  • Jobs involving digital change or reinterpretation of content (e.g., retail salesman, e-commerce specialist, professions requiring precise mechanics)
  • New employment opportunities (data analysts, scientists, software and application developers, marketing experts, drone leaders)
  • Jobs that require a lot of face-to-face interaction can’t be readily replaced (e.g., social professions, health professions, teachers, artists, and musicians).

Automation will significantly negatively impact low-wage occupations, as it does not require any specific skills or any interaction with coworkers. As a result, persons with fewer skills and lower-income are at risk of losing their jobs. However, those with higher-than-average wages face a different predicament. According to studies in the United States, automation has little effect on employees earning more than $30 per hour.

The robot revolution has created a massive demand for further training.

The effects of robotics have both positive and negative aspects. Technology, on the one hand, boosts production, but it also puts jobs at risk. People still labor far more than machines, accounting for 71% of working hours. However, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, robots will have surpassed humans and will work longer than humans for the first time (52 to 48 percent).

Seventy-five million people may lose their jobs as a result of the new industrial revolution by 2022. The World Economic Forum (WEF) conducted research titled “The Future of Jobs 2018” that came to this result. During the same time frame, the WEF projects that 133 million new employment will be produced. According to the World Economic Forum, politicians and business leaders will have to deal with a shortage of competent people and devise education and training programs solutions. By 2022, everyone should expect an additional 101 learning days on average.

In production and logistics, advanced robotics are being used.

The critical technology for the automated factory of the future is advanced robotics. By 2021, the market for manufacturing tasks is expected to expand by 46%, reaching a volume of 3.7 billion USD.

Industrial robots to self-driving robots

Advanced robots, as opposed to typical industrial robots, react to their surroundings and act independently. As a result, they can carry out human-assigned jobs. Robots that can finish the entire delivery process, for example. They receive orders over WLAN, move autonomously to the appropriate shelf, use cameras, and sensors to recognize the correct object, take it, and carry it for further processing. Unlike traditional industrial robots, their path and handling are not predetermined, and they react to the situation autonomously.

Workplace Impacts of Advanced Robotics

The latest study by the Boston Consulting Group, “Advanced Robotics in the Factory of the Future,” looked into the impact of advanced robot technology on the workplace. The poll included executives, production, and technology managers from over 1,300 major corporations and medium-sized businesses from diverse industries worldwide.

The findings suggest that industrial enterprises regard automation as a positive opportunity, notably in EU nations like Germany, France, and Austria. Furthermore, they do not anticipate significant job losses.

On the other hand, 20% of respondents in China and Poland believe that the deployment of robots will lose more than 20% of manufacturing employment. In Austria, this figure is barely 5%, while it is only 2% in Germany. By 2025, just a minor drop of 5 to 10% of jobs is expected in Germany and Austria, according to 31% and 32% of respondents, respectively. The explanation for this disparity is likely due to Germany’s or Austria’s high level of automation, while many standardizable operations in China and Poland can still be automated.

Gains in productivity and new job profiles

Routine jobs will be mechanized in the future, but new job profiles needing new abilities will develop at the same time:

  • Orders that essentially need manual and routine labor (for example, loading and unloading equipment) are most likely to be entirely automated in the future.
  • Orders comprising regular duties and development activity will result in a significant proportion of development work being completed (e.g., maintenance and production control).
  • Workers will need to learn new skills if manual labor changes to non-routine jobs.
  • As a result of the technological takeover, new occupational categories will arise.
  • People’s roles will change to include duties requiring technical and soft abilities (e.g., the ability to take the initiative). Technicians, for example, will be most concerned about mistakes that automated systems cannot manage.

Other industries’ impact on robotics

Unlike the first industrial revolution, it isn’t just workers’ employment that is under jeopardy this time. In the not-too-distant future, robots will perform an increasing number of duties previously performed by humans.

PwC calculated the proportion of existing employees with a high risk of automation by 2030 in its report “Will robots steal our jobs?” based on a data set developed by the OECD that thoroughly analyses the tasks involved with employing over 200,000 individuals in 29 countries. PwC finds considerable variances in the degree of automation achieved across industries and high automation potential in administration, financial services, trade, and science. PwC forecasts three overlapping phases of development from now through the 2030s:

  1. The first wave of the algorithm wave is already underway. It focuses on automating simple computer activities and analyzing structured data in fields such as banking, information, and communication.
  2. The second wave, which includes the automation of repeatable tasks such as filling out forms, communicating and exchanging information through dynamic technological support, and statistical analysis of unstructured data in semi-controlled environments such as warehouses using drones and robots, is currently underway but will not fully take off until the 2020s.
  3. Autonomy wave: these technologies focus on physical work automation, and manual dexterity, as well as problem-solving in dynamic real-world situations requiring rapid response, such as manufacturing and transportation (e.g., driverless vehicles) – this wave is not expected to have a significant impact on labor markets until the 2030s.

The study also looked at the automation potentials of specific waves about each employee group’s educational level, age, and gender.

The primary disparities can be observed in educational attainment. Automation has a much smaller impact on highly qualified personnel than it does on low-skilled workers. The reasons for this include that highly-educated workers are better at adapting to technological change and are more likely to hold leadership positions that need the application of human judgment and the design and monitoring of AI-based systems.

Although older workers may find it more challenging to adapt to change and earn new certifications than younger employees, differences by age group are less significant. This is especially true in the transportation and industrial industries, where less-educated males account for a large share of male workers as they approach the third wave of automation. On the other hand, women may be disproportionately affected by early waves of automation, such as office workers.

Conclusion: Robotics alters the labor market rather than eliminating it.

At least in terms of the number of jobs, robotic automation is unlikely to disrupt the labor market. Jobs, on the other hand, are constantly changing. Robotics may pose a threat, particularly to those in the low-wage, low-skilled sectors disproportionately affected by automation. To stay competitive in the coming years, businesses must adjust swiftly to these developments and (re)train and educate their staff.

More on this topic can be found in our blog post: Do Robots Take Our Jobs, Or Do They Do It For Us?

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