How Will the Rise of Robotics Affect Employment Trends?
Rapidly emerging new technologies are generating a huge paradigm shift that will affect most, if not all, Industries. This change is happening due to the rise of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which has started to replace human workers in many Industries.
The application for RPA and its close cousin Artificial Intelligence (AI), into modern business workflows is a real game changer for most companies since it can be used to carry out repetitive, well-defined tasks that have traditionally been performed by human workers.
RPA is most useful when it is used to carry out rule-based tasks that have a high volume. In those cases, it can easily outperform humans, as robots work faster, more accurately, and are considerably cheaper once they are set up and running.
Since Robotic Process Automation can effectively replace human workers performing repetitive, manual tasks, it is becoming increasingly clear that the rise of RPA will have a huge effect on the modern workforce.
How fast will RPA replace manual jobs?
The process of job loss due to RPA has already begun. According to some estimates, almost half of the jobs lost in the United States over the last twenty years are gone because they were replaced by RPA.
This process will continue and speed up in the near future. Some experts estimate that up to one-quarter of workflows in all Industries will be taken over by RPA in the next three years.
While it’s difficult to predict the exact rate at which RPA will replace human workers, this process has clearly been set in motion, and it will definitely affect much more jobs in the near future.
Job loss due is irreversible
The steady loss of manufacturing jobs that has started of the last two decades will not be reversed, even though many people still hope for the return of these jobs.
Since automation provides huge advantages to companies that deploy it, it’s very unlikely that any of them will return to using a human workforce for the same tasks.
In support of this notion, the productivity of companies that implement RPA actually goes up, even though many of their manufacturing jobs are lost.
The deployment of automation is thus making companies more competitive, which makes it unlikely they are going to abandon it again in favour of employing manufacturing workers.
Automation will also replace many offshore jobs
In an effort to cut costs, many companies moved their manufacturing jobs offshore over the last 50 years, taking them to low-salary countries.
RPA will also replace many of these jobs. While setting up automation is initially expensive, once robots are up and running, they can perform at a low cost for years.
According to some estimates, the cost of running RPA is 30% of the price of a paying a low-salary offshore worker for the same task.
Due to this advantage, the rise of RPA will cause the loss of both local and overseas jobs.
Creating the workforce of the future
Since RPA is so beneficial for many Industries, trying to reverse the trend of automation obviously doesn’t make any sense, and wouldn’t work anyways.
Instead, businesses should formulate a new strategy for their workforce, one in which the role of human workers is aligned with automated workflows.
Since humans clearly can’t outperform robots doing repetitive, high-volume tasks, it makes sense that they should concentrate on things that humans are better at than robots.
The rise of RPA is thus forcing humans to focus on more creative tasks since robots will take over the boring, repetitive work. Many would argue that this is actually a good thing.
Seen in this light, automation will enable human workers to turn towards more rewarding work.
New jobs created by RPA
While it is clear that some jobs will be lost because of RPA, other jobs will be created by the rise of the new technology.
Companies that implement RPA will need specialists to monitor, analyse, and run the technology, and someone to train their staff in running it.
The new technology will thus create a whole new field of expertise that will be highly sought after, and well paid.
Most jobs will be transformed
The jobs that are likely to be completely replaced by RPA are entirely repetitive and rule-based, which makes them great candidates for being automated.
These tasks also provide the greatest benefits from being performed by RPA (increased quality, productivity & lower cost).
But in addition to these clear-cut cases, there are many jobs in modern businesses that are only partially repetitive and rule-based. It follows that these jobs won’t be completely replaced by RPA.
Instead, RPA is likely to transform jobs like this, by removing the repetitive, high-volume tasks, and freeing up workers to focus on more interesting, creative aspects of their work.
It’s likely that part of the future responsibility of jobs that fall in this category will be to monitor and manage the robots that perform the repetitive tasks.
Human workers will spend more time improving the quality of the user experience, while robots perform the actual bulk of the work.
RPA is here to stay, and will rapidly transform the role of the entire modern workforce.
Since automation provides so many benefits to modern business, it’s necessary to formulate a new workforce strategy that is aligned with the benefits of RPA.
Implementation of RPA frees up human workers from performing mindless, repetitive tasks, and thus the new technology can be viewed as a positive opportunity to make human jobs more creative and fulfilling.