We live in an increasingly automated world. With the rise of self-driving cars, cashier-less stores and chatbots, robots doing human jobs are gradually becoming the norm.
But are human workers on the verge of becoming obsolete, soon to be replaced by an all-robot workforce?
If you work in the the automotive, electronics, metal, chemicals, plastic or food industries, you’ll already be familiar with robots on the job.
Many well-known companies benefit from automated production, including Adidas, Ford, Tesla and Apple. Robot workers are well suited to manufacturing roles, as they require repetitive actions, high output and uniform production.
According to the 2017 World Robot Statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the global manufacturing industry utilises an average of 77 robot units per 10,000 employees. By far the leader in robot density is South Korea, with a staggering 631 units per 10,000 employees.
There are some obvious roles where it makes sense to use a machine instead of a human, such as those that involve dangerous or repetitive tasks. Robots give the benefit of preventing humans from being put at risk while also completing tasks with greater efficiency and accuracy.
For mindless or repetitive tasks, the equivalent wage paid to a human worker would be very low, and the job would be unfulfilling. By outsourcing these uninviting tasks to machines, humans can focus on more engaging or creative work, bringing greater job satisfaction and a more efficient use of resources.
The key is learning which jobs should be given to robots and which should be kept for humans. Roles that hinge on creativity, compassion and personality are unlikely to be completely outsourced to machines, whereas complex calculations, uniform manufacturing and dangerous operations are better suited to robots.
While society may welcome cashier-less shops and chat bots, they may find driverless taxis or robot waitstaff too clinical. Ultimately, if customers aren’t willing to accept an impersonal service, it won’t be profitable to replace those humans with robots.
Technology has come a long way over the last few decades and there’s no denying that things are still changing rapidly. But machines have been taking human roles for centuries, and employment opportunities have still continued to skyrocket.
The industrial revolution completely changed the world of manufacturing, with many artisanal skills being replaced by assembly lines, and even these began to fall away in the 1980s with the implementation of further industrial machinery.
But as one job becomes obsolete, another is born. With the rise of the internet came the creation of jobs that never would have existed even 30 years ago. Social media marketers, web developers, data protection officers and many more jobs were created because of machines.
Let’s also not forget that humans are the ones that create and maintain these robots in the first place; we still need humans to design, build and repair them.
The most important thing to learn from the robot revolution is that no matter what the latest technology has in store for us, there will always be a need for human creativity, intelligence and kindness. We can use robots as a resource to improve our way of working and quality of life, but this should be a partnership, with robots working alongside humans as assistants rather than replacements.
As a business owner, there may soon come a time when you may need to assess whether you are efficiently utilising your staff resources, and whether there is any call to automate some of your processes to allow humans to do what humans do best. While it’s great to embrace new technologies, don’t underestimate the importance of your existing staff.
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If you’d like to hire talented humans that will be a true asset to your company even when the robots begin to take over, take a look at our recruitment services or contact us online to let us know exactly what you’re looking for.
Philip specialises in: Senior, Director and C-Level roles in Digital Marketing
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