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Will Robotics Technology in 2017 Replace Or Retool Employees?

Will Robotics Technology in 2017 Replace Or Retool Employees?

Robots and computers are now performing jobs that were previously entrusted to humans. Today, entire factory operations are automated and controlled by synchronized machines, robots and computers. Robotics has also infiltrated the service related industries. Customers at the U.S restaurant chain Chili's, can now pay their bills, play games and place orders using a tablet without the need to speak to a single waitress. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lowe’s, the popular hardware chain, is testing a robot to greet customers and guide them to aisles that contain the requested item of interest. Against these growing trends, should employees be fearful of being replaced by a robot?

Are Robots a Threat To Jobs?

A Roland Berger study “Of Robots and Men—in Logistics” projects that in the next decade, robotization of logistics could result in elimination of hundreds of thousands of unskilled jobs, potentially impacting 1.5 million positions in the Eurozone. It is therefore easy to see why robotics technology and computer controlled operations seem to have the edge over human operation and control. Robots do not require vacation or sick leave, health insurance, monthly salaries or annual bonuses. There is a onetime fee for purchase and installation, minimal operating expenditure, the ability to work 24 hour work days, assurance of standardized quality, and a greater control of output.

Moreover some functions are better tailored for the inanimate. Robots are being designed to undertake hazardous tasks that enable workers to be relieved of challenging or hazardous functions and enjoy greater job enrichment. For example drones in Poland or in Brazil are being used in building inspections of potentially unsafe environments. The elimination of such high risk functions would however serve as a boon versus a burden to the worker's portfolio.

Nevertheless, a 2016 World Bank study suggests that about two-thirds of jobs in developing countries may become redundant through automation. There is a strong possibility of downsizing employees who have with lower skill sets and limited educational background.

An Opportunity for More Jobs?

Contrastingly, there were some positive employment prospects emerging from automation that was highlighted in a survey conducted by one of the world’s largest human resource consulting companies Manpower Group. The survey involved 18,000 employers over 43 countries and 6 different sectors on robotic technology in the workplace. The survey showed that more companies were seeking to optimize its operational efficiency by increasing new positions in the workplace compared to those who attempted to cut staff. One recently revised guide to robotics stated that in fact 600,000 jobs were added in the manufacturing sector over the last 6 years. This position was supported by the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report (2016). The report stated that employers, who embraced the technological revolution, appreciated its beneficial application towards automation of mechanical, engineering and routine processes. The report added that companies recognized the need for employees, but whose competencies and skillset would complement rather than compete with robotics.

A McKinsey Global Institute report, noted that up to 45% of tasks that people perform could be automated as opposed to jobs being completely absorbed by robotics. This means that lower skilled employees would have to be retrained and retooled to supervise the operations or perform additional or different functions to remain relevant. There would be a greater demand for employees capable of designing, programming, servicing and coordinating the robots and overseeing other digitized processes. Persons qualified in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will become more marketable and will play a more prominent role in the workplace.

Is the Human Touch Extinct?

Apart from the evolving technical skillset now required, the reality is that robotic technology cannot provide that inimitable human touch innate in staff. Humans are social creatures and crave personal interaction. While there is a financial justification towards automated efficiency, human interaction is still integral to the provision of excellent customer service, sustaining employee morale and driving think tank projects for technological advancement. The fear may be well placed for many traditional routine roles but the truth is that robotics cannot replace every single job.

The impact of Robotic technology in the workplace can best be summarized by ServiceNow CEO, John Donahoe, who said in a 2017 interview with, “There’s this assumption that it’s going to be people or robots, all or nothing. ...It’s automating part of the job, but not the full job...Technology…replaces manual work and creates new opportunities. And productivity creates growth, which creates new kinds of work. It is a virtuous cycle”. A word to the wise is sufficient. Employees would be well advised to monitor the technological landscape and intuitively take the initiative to retool in order to stay ahead of the curve.


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I am Joseph Tramontana and I am serving as the Chief Financial Officer for OnPoint Education Network. I have more than two decades of executive-level expertise .Currently I am working as a professional writer for Dreamjobs that offers jobs for all type of businesses in Srilanka.

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