Reposted from A3automate.org December 21, 2016
Debates over robots taking jobs from people versus creating jobs may never be fully settled. Technology will continue evolving and improving and industries undergo constant change. Month to month, it may not be possible to see the impact that automation has on jobs until analysts stop to look back over the course of a few years or longer.
Automation critics say that the widespread use of robots is inevitable. The downside is that they will take jobs away from workers and in a future economy that’s based more on information than manufacturing, workers will have no new industries needing their skills.
An analyst at the Brookings Institution, Scott Andes, wrote in an article “‘Job stealing’ robots are an economic distraction” that “at the national level there is no correlation between adoption of robots and job losses in the manufacturing sector.”
Examples of Robots as Job Creators
There are two examples of how automation has played out in the real world as seen in the Why I Automate video series under the Resources page of the Association for Advancing Automation website. Success in both cases led to more people working.
Surface Encounters is a granite fabricator that produces granite countertops for remodeling and new kitchens. The company has locations in Michigan, Indiana, and Missouri and implemented an automation strategy that led to fewer errors, improved customer satisfaction and more products sold.
Surface Encounter’s use of automation was highlighted on a video installment of Why I Automate: Surface Encounters. Automating production led to new locations opening up and the company was able to hire more workers.
In Baltimore, a company automated for a different reason. It had one product, wire baskets made for bagel shops, and Chinese manufacturers were producing cheaper baskets and taking over market share. Marlin Steel fully automated, improved worker safety, and diversified from wire baskets into product lines for many different industries.
The company’s CEO and owner, Drew Greenblatt, shared the benefits of automation in a video installment of Why I Automate: Marlin Steel.
Where Robots will Create Jobs
Automation will fuel the next wave of job growth in the United States. More employment isn’t the only benefit for workers. Download the white paper Three Ways Robotics can Boost Your Bottom Line by the Association for Advancing Automation to learn the strategic importance of robotics in the workplace and the benefits to the U.S. manufacturing sector.
The link between automation and more employment was the focus of 2011 study by the International Federation of Robots and concluded that one million industrial robots created nearly three million jobs. The study was referenced in a 2016 article on TechCrunch, Robots won’t just take jobs, they’ll create them, that stated “New jobs will be created in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields like nanotechnology and robotics.”
There are other industries that will also benefit including automotive, electronics, renewable energy, skilled systems, robotics and food and beverage. Not everyone will need to be an engineer to find jobs created by robots.
Accepting Robots on the Job
Employees can get concerned if management shifts from traditional production to robotics and other forms of automation. Reassure workers that they’re not being tossed aside.
Instead companies can let staff know that they can learn new skills needed to supervise and work with the robots and automated systems. Showing how safety and ergonomics will improve are among the benefits of automation for employees.
An increase in sales means that more revenue can be available for investing back into operations.
Robots don’t have to spell the end of careers and jobs. In many cases, they can open doors to new opportunities. Many different resources to maximize automation like trainings and memberships are available through A3automate.org.