There is no denying that automation will result in the elimination of certain jobs in the coming years. However, as companies increasingly adopt robots across various industries, there is also a growing opportunity for workers to participate in building and implementing this technology. Both humanoid and non-humanoid robots are expected to reduce employment in the future, though the impact may vary depending on the industry.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, sectors such as electronics, energy tech and utilities, and consumer goods are most likely to adopt robotics. The study predicts that 60% of companies operating in the production of consumer goods and in the oil and gas industry anticipate job losses due to automation. On the other hand, 60% of companies in information and technology services expect the creation of new jobs within the next five years.
Opportunities for Workers
Despite concerns about job displacement, many companies, like robotics company Zipline, are actually looking to hire more employees. Zipline, based in San Francisco, designs and operates autonomous delivery drones and aims to add at least 100 workers to its team. Positions are open in fields ranging from electrical and mechanical engineering to coding and security. The company sees automation as an opportunity to revolutionize the slow, expensive, and environmentally detrimental delivery ecosystem, benefiting both customers and the planet.
The Association for Advancing Automation emphasizes two advantages of automation. Firstly, it reduces monotonous or dangerous tasks in workers’ day-to-day roles, making their jobs more efficient and safer. Secondly, it helps companies stay competitive and efficient in the production process, relieving an ongoing labor shortage. The president of the Association, Jeff Burnstein, emphasizes that automation should be seen as a tool that enhances workers’ effectiveness and eligibility for future job opportunities.
Companies face the challenge of finding a delicate balance between using automation to improve employees’ work and not completely replacing them. Unions and labor rights advocates have expressed concerns about robotic adoption, fearing that it could eliminate certain human functions entirely. However, the large-scale adoption of robotics in China demonstrates that automation has become crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. Even countries with abundant and low-cost labor recognize the need for automation to stay globally competitive.
Automation in Food Service
Automation has also made its way into the food service industry, with companies like Chipotle exploring the use of robots to make their operations more productive. Vebu Labs, based in California, is working with Chipotle on a robot named the Autocado, which helps in prepping avocados for guacamole. Chipotle is also testing a chip-making robot called Chippy, freeing up workers to focus on other kitchen tasks. Despite the labor-saving benefits of automation in these sectors, there is a shortage of workers with the necessary skills to supply and maintain the technology.
According to Jeff Burnstein, there is a pressing need for more training on how to use and build robots. Companies are facing a challenge in finding qualified individuals who possess the technical skills required to operate automated systems. Burnstein dispels the notion that a four-year degree is the only path to a great job, citing companies that are hiring individuals straight out of high school due to the shortage of workers with technical expertise. Addressing this gap in skills is crucial for companies looking to adopt automation in their operations.
As automation continues to shape industries, embracing the opportunities it presents is vital. While some jobs may be replaced, the growth of automation also creates new and exciting avenues for employment. By adapting to this changing landscape, workers can position themselves for the high-paying and safer jobs that automation enables. Moreover, investment in training and education is crucial to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to develop, operate, and maintain automated systems. Automation is not a threat; it is a tool that, when utilized effectively, can revolutionize industries and improve the lives of workers and consumers alike.