Will automation decrease the job opportunities for people?

Will automation decrease the job opportunities for people?

We are living in the times where the soda you drank on that particularly hot afternoon was never touched by human hands from it’s manufacturing to packaging and that canned food sitting in your kitchen shelf was all cooked, pasteurized and canned by an automated assembly line with nonexistent human involvement. It’s not uncommon to observe that what once was a task for hundreds of people is being done by an automated robot. What was once an opportunity for hundreds of people to earn money has been replaced by machinery. But is this all that has been happening or is there more than meets the eye?

With more and more industries opting for automated manufacturing process thanks to more efficiency and precision over manual labor, one can argue that soon there will be no job opportunities for humans anymore and robotics will take over. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), over 75 million jobs will be displaced over the decade globally thanks to automation replacing manual labor.

With the breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), not only low-skill repetitive jobs are on risk but even those which require moderate skill and some degree of dynamicity. This is especially true in industries like manufacturing, transportation, wholesale and retail, with the biggest impact on workers with the only minimal level of education. While industries like education and medical are least threatened due to a high proportion of tasks not easy to be automated.

But if we look it at from a broader perspective, hasn’t this happened already? A phenomenon called the Industrial Revolution that occurred in the 1760s. The transition to new manufacturing processes from hand production methods to machines, which resulted in the formation of the world as we know it today. It increased the standard of living of the general population consistently for the first time in history. The intelligence of the human mind was giving more value than their mindless laboring as any other animal.

Isn’t it safe to state that same will happen again? If we have to learn from the history of inventions, a breakthrough in technology can create twice as many job opportunities as it really eliminates. If we take the current scenario into consideration, the rise of the robot economy. As long as we spread the potential gains from this across the society and no one is left behind, this will create more opportunities for people in the robotics and automation industry than it destroys in low-skill jobs.

As long as we as an Individual, Government or Industry take advantage of the situation, we will certainly be able to create a new future of good work for all.

Jon Andrews, the head of technology and investments at PwC, said:

“There’s no doubt that AI and robotics will rebalance what jobs look like in the future, and that some are more susceptible than others.

What’s important is making sure that the potential gains from automation are shared more widely across society and no one gets left behind. Responsible employers need to ensure they encourage flexibility and adaptability in their people so we are all ready for the change.

In the future, knowledge will be a commodity so we need to shift our thinking on how we skill and upskill future generations. Creative and critical thinking will be highly valued, as will emotional intelligence.”


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