One of the most popular discussions surrounding automation is how automation will affect employment. Some are confident that humans will always have a place in manufacturing, while others are already lamenting the inevitability of an obsolete human workforce. Regardless of how things ultimately play out, we’re already seeing that improvements in industrial automation result in the need for workers with more education, more training, and higher level skills.
Automating simple tasks
Automation does away with the need for low-skill laborers. Repetitive manual tasks – lifting, moving, pushing, turning, and the like – are among the easiest types of work to automate in manufacturing. Machines do these things better than people do.
Industrial robots are faster, stronger, more durable, and more consistent than people are. They’re also more efficient and cheaper than workers, so it makes since to automate these jobs.
Increased automation in factories hasn’t completely eliminated the need for human workers, however. A number of factors – including automation and offshoring – have reduced the number of U.S. workers employed in manufacturing, but there’s still a demand for workers in this industry.
Turning wrenches and moving boxes isn’t in the job description, though.
Improvements in automation mean that workers need more training.
There was a time when just about anyone could walk into a factory and get a job working on the line. You didn’t need a college degree or any advanced training. If you were physically capable, and a relatively fast learner, you’d be fine. Today, these low-skill tasks are being automated.
We have machines to do the difficult, physically demanding, and undesirable jobs. Plus, industrial robots do those jobs better than us, and they cost less, too.
But factories still need workers. It’s just that workers need more education and more training. This is where the notorious skills gap comes into play.
A study by Deloitte Consulting LLP and Manufacturing Institute found that there are roughly 3.4 million manufacturing jobs that need to be filled by 2025, and only 1.4 million workers are actually qualified to perform these jobs.
There’s a growing emphasis on STEM education by schools and employers alike to try and close the skills gap. Factories have changed drastically over the past few decades, and it’s crucial that manufacturers addresses these changes by finding qualified workers to capitalize on the benefits of automation.
Your machines take care of you, so take care of them.
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