Are Robots Stealing Our Jobs? The Rise of Automation

Are robots stealing our jobs?

The deployment of self-service kiosks by retailers and fast food chains has sparked fears that these businesses are replacing human employees with machines.

This comes amidst a wider debate about the rise of automation across all sectors, and whether these technologies will result in mass unemployment.

In other words – are robots stealing our jobs? Let’s look at the facts…

The robots are coming…but how quickly?

There’s no doubt that automation will take people’s jobs – in fact, it’s already started taking them.

But with some commentators predicting large-scale unemployment in the face of a robotics revolution, there is confusion over how many professions will become obsolete – and how quickly.

According to the Guardian, two-thirds of Americans believe robots will do most of the work currently done by humans in 50 years’ time. Yet 80% also believe their own jobs will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ exist in their current forms in the same timeframe.

Clearly, those numbers don’t add up. So just how quickly are robots stealing our jobs?

Whilst nothing is certain, a report by PwC indicates that 30% of UK jobs could be at risk of automation by the early 2030s, compared with 38% in the US, 35% in Germany and 21% in Japan.

A new study by Oxford and Yale University researchers predicts that artificial intelligence will be capable of automating all human tasks by 2051, and all human jobs by 2136.

Which jobs will robots take first?

Whilst these reports can only predict, it’s clear that advances in robotics will transform the world’s workforce. But which jobs will be the first to go?

According to Forbes, the following seven jobs will be among some of the first to be taken by robots:

  • Truck drivers
  • Construction workers
  • Legal support staff
  • Medical professionals and doctors
  • Accountants
  • Report writers
  • Salespeople

Which jobs are safest from robots?

Robots are fast becoming more and more sophisticated, but there are some skills and qualities that will be incredibly difficult to replicate with technology.

Shelly Palmer, CEO of strategic advisory and technology solutions practice the Palmer Group, thinks these five jobs will be the last to go:

  • Early years and primary school teachers
  • Professional athletes
  • Politicians
  • Judges
  • Mental health professionals

So…are robots stealing our jobs?

Does this mean all those displaced workers will have nowhere to go? Will robots completely take over while humanity languishes in unemployment and poverty?

If research and history are anything to go by, probably not.

Technological advances have been changing the way we work and the jobs we do consistently for centuries.

For example, in 1841 36% of the UK workforce worked in manufacturing, while 33% worked in services. By 2011, 81% worked in services while only 9% worked in manufacturing.

Robots will take many of our jobs as we currently know them, but new jobs will be created. The increases in efficiency robots bring will provide more purchasing power for new products and services that require human oversight and involvement.

Still not reassured? You could always take a leaf out of the Luddites’ book and smash up the robots when they come to take your job. Just an idea.