A lot of people are really worried about the emergence of robots and machines with AI.
They are of the view that these will essentially steal their jobs which will lead to a future of ubiquitous unemployment.
However, if we look really close into it and delve deep into history, we will know that we have been there before already!
In the United States, the various newspaper headlines prompted readers about losing their jobs. The headlines read, ‘March of the Machine Makes Idle Hands’ (Times, in 1928).
Again in 1956, Times announced, ‘Workers See ‘Robot Revolution’ Depriving Them of Jobs’. The same newspaper in 1980 declared, ‘A Robot Is After Your Job’. And finally, in 2017, Times edited the same article titles and asked the readers, ‘Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?’
And despite all of these, the U.S. has full employment. The warnings are still on, however, but there are ample reasons to doubt these warnings now.
A Few Facts and Studies
- Ever since this dilemma started playing in our minds, several studies have been initiated to know its worth. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics are said to generate as many employment opportunities in the U.K. as they will displace in the coming 20 years of time, as per a recent study by PwC.
- The same research also states that while these technological advances may displace around 7 million jobs in the U.K., it can equally create almost 7.2 million jobs, which will result in a modest enhancement of around 200,000 job opportunities.
- According to a report by the World Economic Forum in 2018, around 50% of the business is expected to shrink their full-time workforce by 2022 due to the emergence of automation. However, nearly 40% of them are thinking about extending their workforce, while more than 25% of the companies are expecting that AI and Robotics will create new job roles in the work front.
- With the growth in the AI sector, some of the fastest-growing job roles across all industries will include software developers, data analysts, and social media specialists. Also, the ones which require ‘human skills’ like customer service and innovation and sales and marketing will also increase in demand in the next few years.
- WEF also reports that between the years 2018 and 2022, the tourism and aviation industries will see the highest amount of employee retraining. Physical tasks will be quite significantly replaced by mechanized labors and humans will be able to focus more on other productive tasks.
- This report by WEF, in accordance with PwC’s study regarding the same, reaffirms that robotics, AI and smart automation technologies will bring about greater economic welfares, which could contribute around $15 trillion by 2030 to the global GDP.
How AI Can Create Employment? A Few Examples!
Automation leads to a much broader level of job opportunities, without a doubt. All these new technologies have turned the luxuries of the past into the necessities of the present. And in order to support these new needs, labor is required. Let us now see two very easy examples to support this statement.
- People couldn’t afford traveling on an airplane in 1950. However, as the ticket prices for the same went down with time, the travel and tourism industry simply thrived. Also, today, the major theme-based amusement parks and attractions worldwide are visited by more than a billion people every year. This has contributed to the employment of more than 2 million jobs in the U.S. and Europe alone. So, it can easily be concluded that there are now a whole lot of employment opportunities which didn’t even exist in the 1950s.
- At the beginning of 1960, collecting cash from a bank would need people to visit a human teller. However, in 1967, Barclays Bank in London installed the first-ever automated teller machine (ATM), and people thought that it would result in the loss of teller jobs for many. They were absolutely wrong in this. Although the number of teller jobs per bank branch declined a bit, the all-new ATM technology made it extremely cheaper to open new branches. Tellers started solving more complex finance problem for the customers which they were unable to do before. Also, they are now able to provide a much better CX (customer experience) than what they could offer back in the 1960s. And needless to say, teller jobs now have significantly increased all over the world.
Basically, in the business scenario today, AI and robotics aren’t replacing humans but are actually amplifying our skills and teaming up with us to achieve greater number of profits which was previously not possible.
Rethinking Business Goals with AI & Robotics
Even if the old jobs disappear, new ones will grow. And the employments of the future will be built around these new ones.
Businesses will have to aid their employees in upgrading their skills and proficiencies in order to gain new necessary skills.
As per a few reports, 65% of the kids in school today will have a job in the future which doesn’t even exist now. And for this, they will have to go through continuous relearning and retraining.
If you are an entrepreneur or a business leader, you need to address these challenges of the automation industry.
As competitors generally add new abilities to meet the demands of the new clients, you will have to keep up with the challenges or surpass them.
You will have to be a creative thinker and come up with new ways and tasks to retrain your employees. You will have to think about the employment options you have, the skills that your employees will need and the ways by which you will train them.
Well, if you are thinking how to initiate the same, then you can start doing this from today by breaking down the tasks into two options; tasks which are most suited for humans and the one which is ideal for machines.
You can easily re-evaluate your company’s current employment options this way.
For example, you will no longer need a truck driver to deliver your products from one place to another.
However, today, when all companies are getting judged by the way they serve their consumers, you will need a few people who will be a perfect combination of a customer service agent, a salesperson and a marketer in order to get engaged to your customers and making the whole sales process much easier.
Retraining is the Best Solution
Today, some of the biggest giants in government and labor union sectors are placing their bets on retraining their existing employees and raising its efficacies.
Singapore has already launched SkillsFuture SG, which is a ‘national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points’. Unionlearn by The Trades Union Congress in the U.K. has already trained more than 30,000 ‘union, learning representatives’.
Basically, we need to understand one simple thing; if we do not try and begin to facilitate mass retraining and education, then we will further widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots, thereby increasing political and economic instability worldwide.
PwC, in its study regarding this topic, has recommended that the governments should invest more in STEAM skills – science, technology, engineering, art, and design & mathematics – in order to encourage the workers to update their education and adapt their aptitudes on a repeated basis for complementing the machines.
Whoever thinks that robots and AI are here to take over our jobs are actually fearing the wrong. We need to understand that we should create a culture of incessant learning in order to proceed to a new economy which will give people more opportunities to prosper. And it’s crucial to understand that the responsibility of providing this education shouldn’t be only on the governments. In such a fast-changing atmosphere where continuous education is essential, businesses will play a key role. So, what do you think? Is your company prepared well for this transition yet?
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