According to BBC News, up to 20 million jobs in the manufacturing industry could be replaced by robots by 2030 (as analyzed by Oxford Economics).
New industrial robots take 1.6 manufacturing jobs, particularly those jobs that require the least amount of skills. Then, as workers move out of manufacturing, they tend to find jobs in transport, construction, maintenance, and administration work, which are also at risk for automation, BBC says: “On average, each additional robot installed in those lower-skilled regions could lead to nearly twice as many job losses as those in higher-skilled regions of the same country, exacerbating economic inequality and political polarization, which is growing already, Oxford Economics said.”
Citing Oxford Economics, BBC also says that manufacturing in China will likely be affected the most by automation: “About 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to robots since 2000, including 400,000 in Europe, 260,000 in the US, and 550,000 in China…China will have the most manufacturing automation, with as many as 14 million industrial robots by 2030.”
Where There is Loss, is Growth
While machines are predicted to take some human jobs, growth in jobs that humans can still do are expected to rise, too. Pulling from Oxford Economics, BBC says that “productivity benefits from automation should boost growth, meaning as many jobs are created as lost.” Some jobs might not even be touched by the robot-take over at all, such as those that require compassion, creativity or social intelligence. Those are expected to continue “for decades to come,” BBC said, quoting Oxford Economics.
Regardless, decision makers, especially policymakers, business leaders, workers and teachers, should consider how the changing workforce should adapt to automation. Some industries, like manufacturing, might consider investing in workers whose jobs will be affected by machines, and give them roles that will supplement new automation processes. For example, Cobalt Robotics developed a security robot to keep business premises safe, which is manned by that business’s employees.
As a result, decision makers and workers shouldn’t fret too much about a full-blown automation domination – “At a global level, jobs will be created at the rate they are destroyed,” BBC says, quoting Oxford Economics.