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The future of working: how automation is changing the job market

Robots in the workplace (Skill-Lync, 2023)

In recent years, the rapid advancement of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has been transforming the job market across various industries. From manufacturing and logistics to customer service and administration, automation has the potential to significantly impact the way we work. As technology continues to evolve, it is crucial to understand the implications of automation on the job market and prepare for the changes that lie ahead.

 

Automation refers to the use of technology to perform tasks that were previously done by humans. This can include robotic automation, where physical robots are used to perform manual tasks, as well as cognitive automation, where AI-powered systems are used to perform cognitive tasks such as data analysis and decision-making (Accenture, 2019). The growing adoption of automation in the workplace is driven by various factors, including cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved accuracy, and the ability to work in hazardous or repetitive environments (World Economic Forum, 2020).

 

 

One of the industries that has been greatly impacted by automation is manufacturing. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (2018), the use of robots in manufacturing is expected to result in the displacement of around 12 million jobs by 2025, while also creating 3 million new jobs (World Economic Forum, 2018). This indicates that while automation may eliminate some jobs, it also has the potential to create new opportunities in areas such as robot design, programming, and maintenance.

How AI impacts society (Raconteur, 2017)

However, the impact of automation is not limited to manufacturing alone. The use of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants in customer service and administration has also gained traction. For example, companies like Amazon and Google have implemented chatbots to handle customer inquiries, reducing the need for human customer service representatives (Wright, 2019). This trend is expected to continue, with the global market for chatbots projected to reach $1.25 billion by 2025 (MarketsandMarkets, 2019). While this can lead to increased efficiency in customer service operations, it also raises concerns about the potential displacement of jobs in these sectors.

 

As automation continues to advance, it is imperative to prepare for the changing job landscape. This requires reskilling and upskilling the workforce to adapt to the evolving technological landscape. According to the World Economic Forum (2020), by 2025, around 50% of all employees will need reskilling, and 40% of workers will require upskilling in order to remain relevant in the job market (World Economic Forum, 2020). Educational institutions, governments, and businesses need to work together to provide training programs and support for workers to acquire new skills that are in demand in the automated world.

 

For businesses, this may result in them having to spend additional time and resources to upskill their workers. Since this is costly, governments often have to intervene and provide subsidies for workers’ training programs, so that they do not face structural unemployment. For example, SkillsFuture is a training program in Singapore which “aims to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skills development and lifelong learning”. Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents receive a 70% subsidy for approved SkillsFuture programs (Singapore University Of Social Sciences, 2023). This allows workers in Singapore to upskill themselves at an affordable cost, leaving them less susceptible to replacement by automation.

Being proactive (WeddingWire, 2022)

As a young author with a relatively young audience, what does this mean for us? The matter of fact is, sooner or later, we will be affected by this changing technological landscape, and the best we could do at the moment is:

  • To be proactive in all our classes and extracurriculars, making sure that we are comfortable with digesting fresh content. This is so that we have a lesser hassle later in life, when we too have to upskill ourselves.

  • To keep an open mind regarding further education and career path. This is because, if us students specialize deeply into a particular field at such a young age, and this field is replaced by automation, all our skills would be nullified and it would be extremely difficult to transition to another job.

 

Another important aspect to consider is the ethical implications of automation. Even though AI is simply an algorithm that does not have a conscience, the amount of problems it is able to resolve is truly astounding. But at the same time, as machines become capable of performing tasks that were once done by humans, questions arise regarding the ethical implications of job displacement, privacy, and security. For example, there are concerns about the impact of automation on vulnerable populations such as low-skilled workers and the potential for bias in AI-powered systems (World Economic Forum, 2018). It is crucial for businesses and policymakers to address these ethical concerns and develop systems to ensure that automation is implemented responsibly and with consideration for its social impact too.

 

In conclusion, the future of work is being shaped by automation and AI technologies. While automation has the potential to improve efficiency and productivity in various industries, it also presents challenges such as job displacement and ethical concerns as mentioned earlier. It is essential for businesses, educational institutions, and policymakers to proactively address these challenges and prepare for the changing job landscape. Reskilling and upskilling programs, ethical considerations, and responsible implementation of automation technologies are just some of the ways businesses could achieve this. Ultimately, automation has the potential to improve productivity and efficiency, but it is extremely important to ensure that the benefits are shared equitably and fairly across all sectors of society.


Om Acharekar

24th April 2023

Views: 137