Workplace robots 'could create double the jobs they destroy'

Workplace robots 'could create double the jobs they destroy'

The rise of machines, robots and algorithms in the workplace is expected to create double the number of jobs than it puts at risk of being replaced, the Guardian reports.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), around 133million jobs globally could be created by the middle of the next decade due to rapid technological advances – this is compared with the 75million jobs that are at risk of displacement.

The WEF report indicates that new technologies have the competence to both disrupt and complement new ways of working – similar to previous periods of economic history such as the Industrial Revolution.

Klaus Schwab, chairman of the WEF, said that employment can reap the benefits of technology but was not a “foregone conclusion”. In order for it to work seamlessly, it would require greater investment in training and education to help workers adapt.  

The report outlined urgent challenges for reskilling existing workers and the need for safety nets to protect workers at risk of redundancy.

“[This] is a call to action to governments, businesses, educators and individuals alike to take advantage of a rapidly closing window to create a new future of good work for all,” he wrote in the report.

Company bosses said that more than half of all workplace tasks at their firms today could be performed by machines by 2025. White-collar workers – those working in accounting, data entry and payroll services – would be among those at the greater risk from redundancy.

Furthermore, over eight in ten businesses surveyed in Britain said it was likely that they would automate work over the next five years with half saying it was likely they would make technophobic staff redundant.

Mike Guggesmos, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at IT firm Insight says that fear of mass job displacement by Artificial Intelligence is misplaced. “The technology has intelligence, but not wisdom, and that limits what it can accomplish by itself.

"The real impact of AI on the employment market over the next few years will be to shift people from one role to another, and to create new roles."

“This migration does not represent a great rupture in the jobs market, but a continuation of what has always happened with new technologies that automate tasks, going back to the first industrial revolution; the lowest skills are replaced by higher skills,” he adds.

And, it seems that automotive technologies have been creeping into the workplace quicker than we may have anticipated. Earlier this year, HR Grapevine reported on Stagecoach trialling driverless buses, which could make human bus drivers redundant if the trial period was successful.

However, speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, John O’Hara, President of NICE EMA, said that there was ‘hard evidence’ to suggest that automotive technologies aren’t strictly negative.

“Artificial intelligence has already shown itself to be a huge asset to the human workforce, transforming the way we work and bringing huge benefits to businesses and employees. Particularly, it is freeing employees from the burden of monotonous, repetitive tasks to focus on performing the tasks they truly love," he said.

"It enables businesses to be better equipped to schedule employees based on their specific skill sets, which will improve productivity and efficiency. This improved productivity and efficiency will, in turn, allow businesses to expand their services without increasing costs. This adaptive personalisation is the key to employee engagement and, ultimately, improved customer satisfaction.”

Although robotics are beneficial in that they complete mundane tasks and quicken lengthy processes, there is concern that the human workforce will become redundant in the future. Upskilling and future-proofing workforces is the only way to stave off negative technological competition.

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