Setting the record straight on robotic automation
10 May 2021
Robotic automation has the potential to transform the future of work, taking the strain off employees and providing them with a more rewarding working environment. Julian Ware, UK & Ireland Sales Manager of ABB Robotics, explains why it’s time to change the narrative when it comes to robots and jobs.
While there is a lot to be optimistic about on the topic of robotic automation and the future of work, it can be hard to spot a positive headline when it comes to the way that robots are portrayed by the national press. Dramatic headlines have always pulled audiences, and this is certainly the case when it comes to telling the story of robots in manufacturing. Rather than accounts highlighting the proven benefits that robots have delivered worldwide for both companies and their workers, it is more common to see negative reports with headlines such as ‘Robots to replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030’, ‘Automation could replace 1.5 million jobs’ and ‘When robots steal our jobs’.
While such headlines may grab public attention, they only tell half of the story, omitting several key facts that should be also included, to add context and highlight the growing necessity for robots to be introduced to the nation’s factory floors.
Foremost among these is the simple fact that there is often nobody to fill the jobs in question. A perception of manufacturing as dull, dirty and dangerous has resulted in a growing skills shortage that is having a major impact on the ability of manufacturing companies to carry out work and win new projects. Prior to the Covid-19 global pandemic, 33 percent of vacancies in the UK were reflected as hard to fill, due to a lack of qualifications, experience and skills. According to a skills shortages UK 2019/20 report by Luminate Prospects, 106,000 vacancies were recorded as difficult to fill, with 79,000 of those due to skills shortages.
As this shortage places a premium on the available skilled workers, some companies are paying higher prices in inflated salaries to retain staff and ensure that their business can stay productive. Training employees hired at a lesser level than envisioned and the escalating costs of recruitment fees are other factors that also need to be considered.
These factors all build a strong case for robotic automation...
Read the full article in the May issue of DPA
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