The Future of Jobs: Effects of Automation on Jobs

Future Effects of Automation and Robots in the workplace

It is natural to assume that if a machine (or robot), displaces a human in an effort to automate a process, a machine has taken that humans job. This is simply not true. In this article we investigate why we believe that automation in the workplace is not only improving the safety of the workplace, but also creating more jobs.

What is Automation?Automation and Employment infographic

Merriam-Webster defines automation noun au·to·ma·tion \ˌȯ-tə-ˈmā-shən\

  1. The technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically
  2. The state of being operated automatically
  3. Automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process or system by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labour

As it pertains to industry and manufacturing mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labour summarize automation perfectly. Machines are used to replace humans to improve safety, consistency and, throughput.

What does automation through robotics, plc programming and automated assembly mean for jobs?

Albeit at first glance it is easy to suggest that if a human is displaced by a machine in an effort to automate a process, a machine has taken that humans job. Automation typically has the following effects.

First and foremost automation can often replace a human in a dangerous or adverse environment. An example of this is perhaps robots that are often seen in foundry and casting applications handling hot molten metal and hot formed products that would be otherwise too hot, too heavy and often too dangerous for a human to handle in a hot work environment.

These forms of automation and robotics in the workplace open up many other opportunities for the human resource.   A diversity of automation roles becomes available such as; programming, maintenance and production support roles. Also, when companies are competitive, by creating more efficiencies within their facility, they gain more business; thus, creating other employment opportunities. Consequently, robotics and automation has a positive ripple effect on the future of jobs.

Will jobs still exist with automation?

It is possible that automation could eliminate many jobs as they exist today, from the factory floor to the pharmacy there is already automation in place to replace manual labour that is either unsafe, repetitive or mundane. But we agree that automation in the workplace is nothing to fear.

That said further automation would create jobs in the sectors of automation supply, automation maintenance and support, as well as engineering and skilled technical trades.

There are also many jobs that are considered low risk for replacement by automation including retail management, nursing, teaching and early childhood educators.

What types of jobs are created through automation?

There are many types jobs in automation that will be created through further automation. Just looking at the current process of creating automation, more automation will mean more jobs. Jobs in mechanical and electrical automation design for engineers, technicians and technologists. Jobs in automated systems assembly and wiring for skilled mechanical trades including machinists, millwrights, toolmakers and electricians. The completion and development of the automated system for skilled automation technicians and programmers will also create important high-level jobs. CBC has a great article on what types of jobs of the future will be created.

In Conclusion

The factory of the future will bring more jobs in programming and sensing technologies as we progress towards the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0”. These will be higher-level programming (system controls) positions, which will also mean higher pay and greater job satisfaction for the employee.

These are just the jobs that are created within the automation industry itself…look at what further automation will be required…autonomous vehicle technicians, robotic pharmacy technicians and what haven’t we thought about yet?

Check out some of the jobs and careers that automation has created at our facility in Barrie, Ontario.

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