How Industrial Automation Promotes Job Growth
There's a widely held and erroneous perception that industrial automation is a job killer, but in reality, it's quite the opposite, said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).
A3 recently released a whitepaper titled Working in the Automation Age: Sustainable Careers Today and into the Future, which discredits the theory that automation hurts jobs and promotes how modern men and women can find more meaningful, safer and more enjoyable work.
“The hysterical stories keep being printed in the media, but the robot we see doesn't match the idea of robots being a job killer,” said Burnstein. “If it were true, then if robot sales were to rise, you'd expect unemployment to rise. We looked at a twenty year period of manufacturing jobs and overall employment in the US and every time robot sales rose, unemployment fell. Every time robot sales fell, unemployment rose.”
Burnstein explains how the robotics industry today is seeing its greatest expansion since the invention of industrial robotics in the 1960s.
In the past seven years there were 137,000 robots delivered in the US, said Burnstein. “Publicly available studies tell us that as robot use accelerates manufacturing jobs will decline, but guess what? Nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs were created during that period. That doesn't sound like a job killer.”
A3 approached customers like General Motors (GM), who despite investing heavily into industrial robots, added 25,000 more staff, Burnstein added. Amazon was also approached, having added 40,000 industrial robot units to their fleet, along with 100,000 new humans.
The significant issue we should be worried about may be labor shortages, as manufacturers struggle to find skilled replacements for retiring baby boomers who are technologically savvy enough for modern machinery and automation.
“We have examples of companies who have invested in automation to solve the problem of dull, dirty and dangerous jobs, lowered their costs, won new business they wouldn't have otherwise and since they've automated, they've hired more people,” Burnstein said.
“Some manufacturers require skills that aren't really being taught. Our whitepaper talks about how we need to break the mold of going to high school to college to looking for a job and accumulating all that debt. These jobs are mostly hands on, where you can get a certificate out of technical school or community college and become very valuable as a robot operator, installer or by doing maintenance of the technology.”
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