Top 5 Drivers of Business Disruption in 2017 – #5 Automation

Automation to decimate middle class jobs

Automation combines various technologies including Advanced Robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence to take processes out of human hands and run them via hardware and software. Automation has been one of the key words of 2016, making blue and white collar workers alike incredibly nervous. It’s not difficult to see why – a much-quoted study of 2013 suggested that almost half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of becoming obsolete because of it. Commentators have even discussed the possibility of the end of the middle-skilled worker, as they traditionally occupy jobs at high risk of automation. In fact, mass automation is the key driving force behind what has been called the fourth industrial revolution.

The trend towards automated systems will only intensify in 2017. It is employees in production and administration who will bear the brunt of it, although service and creative jobs (which were previously thought of as ‘safe’) will also be affected. Automation is already changing the employment market as companies prepare to integrate automated systems. Employers will look for employees within these skill sets – namely those who can operate, program and repair advanced machinery, and who understand the technology. So automation will in some cases create new jobs. . . but it will be at the expense of others. By 2018, 1.3 million robots will enter industrial service globally, and that’s not including 3D printers or IoT systems.

Despite the devastating effect that automation will have on certain jobs, it’s not all bad. Automation is, after all, about making things more efficient – and according to Deloitte it will save £17 billion for the UK government alone. Production as a process will change, leading to higher quality items as well as cutting concept to product time, which will positively impact both businesses and consumers. Automated vehicles and other systems are ultimately designed to make human lives easier, saving time and money in the process. For businesses, automation is invaluable as it reduces resource usage. It’s inevitable that automated systems will cause serious unemployment, however job seekers can protect themselves by gaining the skill sets that the employers of the fourth industrial revolution will need.