Dystopian and utopian stories about the coming of the robots and what this might mean for the world of work are not uncommon. At one end of the spectrum, apocalyptic scenarios of robots making millions of people not just unemployed but — worse than that — unemployable. At the other end of the spectrum, robots serving us during our endless rounds of golf and trips to the beach!
The reality, however, is likely to be somewhat different. Although automation has historically led to some people losing their jobs as a result of their employers introducing new technologies to automate particular tasks, it is also the case that it has also served to create new work — new types of work; new forms of work; and new ways of working. And although the nature and rate of change in what is being called “Industry 4.0” may be very different to previous technological revolutions, it is nonetheless the case that automation is likely to bring not just risks to jobs, but also the potential to harness new technology to increase productivity and to create new work and new jobs.
It is with this more balanced and realistic look at automation exposure in mind that we have just published a major new report: AutoNation — Analysing the potential risks and opportunities automation could bring to Britain’s labour market. With a Foreword written by Alex Fleming, Country Head and President of Staffing and Solutions, The Adecco Group UK & Ireland, the report explores a number of issues, including:
- The historic connection between automation and employment in the British labour market.
- The potential for automation to help provide solutions to the productivity puzzle.
- The decline in the use of physical skills in recent years, along with a huge increase in the use of analytical and interpersonal skills.
- The effects of exposure to automation on occupations, industries and local economies.
- The ways in which education providers, economic development organisations, and employers can use this insight to prepare for the future.
The report is not an attempt to answer the questions of exactly how automation will effect occupations, industries and local economies, but to put the whole issue into context by showing where exposure to automation is highest, and hinting at how this need not necessarily be seen in a negative light of potential job losses, but could equally well be seen as presenting opportunities to embrace new technology to increase productivity.
The real value of AutoNation is therefore in stimulating thought and discussion around how key agents in the world of human capital can both understand the challenges that automation might bring, and how they can better harness the opportunities automation presents in our drive for increased productivity and inclusive economic growth.
To download a copy of the full report, plus a free PDF focusing on automation exposure in your local economy, click on the button below.
We have now added an Automation Index into our Analyst tool, enabling users to very quickly see the task share exposure to automation for any occupation. To find out more, get in touch.