Are robots really here to steal our jobs?

As technology develops, it’s understandable that people fear for their jobs – particularly in manufacturing where the introduction of machines is replacing skilled workers. But is it all what it seems?

According to new research from the Charted Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, robots are not here to steal your jobs and more needs to be done to communicate that fact. We spoke to CEO Steve Barraclough to find out more…

How will robots (and other tech) affect jobs in the UK? Will jobs be lost or could more be created?

From the research we carried out with over 1,000 professionals working in the manufacturing industry, a third had witnessed job creation as a result of the introduction of robots or automated process, rather than job losses, something often reported. This is an indication that automation is beginning to have a positive effect on manufacturing industry in the UK and, therefore, should be embraced by the industry.

Time will tell how the manufacturing industry will respond to robotics, however, we believe, and our research shows, that if approached positively, automation will complement the industry as long as we continue to factor in the human element.

Why do people feel so negatively about the adoption of new technologies?

Interestingly, our research showed that almost half of the professionals questioned believe that the businesses they work for don’t promote the benefits of automation enough, which is why there is often resistance from employees when new processes are implemented. 

In fact, nearly three-quarters of industry workers feel society is scare-mongered into believing robotics and automation are negative and will someday steal their jobs. This research shows that isn’t the case and rather, that robots should be seen as a welcome introduction.

How can businesses better prepare employees for the introduction of new technologies?

The best way businesses can prepare the workforce is to provide reassurance to employees about the future of jobs and at the same time demonstrate the benefits robotics can offer. The problem we have when discussing automation is that many people don’t yet understand the processes and the wide variety of robotics available so can’t always comprehend the implications of introducing automation into factory processes. For this reason it is vital that employers properly brief their team ahead of introducing new processes.

What new opportunities will the introduction of robots and other tech bring for workplaces?

Many new roles will need to be created to help manage robotics and new automated processes including supervision and maintenance. There will always be a need for humans, as responsibility for the design, implementation and maintenance of automated processes will continue to fall to them.

As automation can improve productivity and reduce costs, it could lead to expansion for many UK manufacturing companies, bringing as it does the potential for creating new jobs. It’s important to remember that the benefits aren’t just about creating new opportunities, although that is an important factor, but also about improving working conditions and productivity, as automation has the ability to make the workplace safer and more dynamic.

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