Robots will not steal UK jobs…they could create more

DESPITE ongoing fears and speculation that robots could steal UK jobs, new data reveals that the majority of industry professionals (63.3%) have never witnessed job losses as a result of the introduction of robots or automated processes. Furthermore, over a third (36.7%) stated that robots have often resulted in job creation within their place of work.

The research was conducted amongst over 1,000 manufacturing professionals and was led by The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), a non-profit body for ergonomists and human factors practitioners. The study sought to ascertain the true perception and reality of automation and robotics amongst those who experience it first-hand.

Key findings revealed that most professionals (72.6%) feel society is scare-mongered into believing robotics and automation are a negative progression. In addition:

  • 4 out of 5 manufacturers (78.9%) feel more should be done to promote the benefits of automation and robotics in the workplace.
     
  • Almost half of industry professionals (45.8%) claim the business they work for does not communicate the benefits of automation to staff, particularly to those involved in first-hand production.
  • Unsurprisingly therefore, over half of industry professionals (52%) admit that there is resistance from employees when implementing new automated processes.

Furthermore, when asked who was responsible for promoting the benefits, respondents pointed the finger towards employers (80%) and technology suppliers (67.8%).

Commenting on the research results, Steve Barraclough, CEO of the CIEHF, said: “Robots and automation are regularly given a bad name. However, whilst automation might remove some mundane and repetitive jobs, it also makes a significant contribution to 'upskilling' employees, which is often overlooked.

“Automation requires programmers and maintainers in areas where they may not have been previously necessary. This presents a real opportunity to businesses and manufacturers that are embracing change. It’s essential to keep people at the heart of new technology and to ‘on-board’ staff at the earliest opportunity. Human factors plays a significant role in the on-boarding process and is essential to ensuring employees are not resistant to change.”

Lee Biggins, founder of CV-Library, which supported the study added: “These latest findings are good news for the UK’s labour market. Skills shortages are an ongoing concern across a number of industries, so it’s refreshing to hear that new technologies and processes in the workplace can help to close this gap and support businesses in upskilling their workforce.”

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