The Consumer Technology Association is a Washington, D.C. trade association that represents technology companies. The organization’s study polled approximately 314 executives and had a fairly even split between small and large technology companies. The study found that just over 7% of technology executives polled believe only some job functions will be automated in the next five years. But 44% of those executives polled said they believed most job functions would be operated by machines or software in that same time period.
In addition, 55% of executives polled said they would automate jobs within their own companies “to remain competitive.” Considering that the global automated guided vehicle (AGV) market will grow to reach an estimated value of $2.3 billion by 2024, automation will continue to shape the modern manufacturing industry.
Automation has long been an increasingly concerning topic for many workers, especially as business executives and political leaders attempt to reconcile the economic productivity of automation with all of the jobs potentially being taken from citizens. Despite those concerns, almost 70% of the executives polled said they planned on hiring more employees.
Granted, almost 48% of those executives also admitted that a majority of those employees would be either contract or part-time workers. Increasing numbers of contract employees, such as those who drive for Lyft or other ride-hailing services, have raised concerns about benefits like healthcare. Many people are now criticizing those companies who contract employees for withholding healthcare benefits even to their full-time contracted employees.
In fact, Uber only recently allowed limited healthcare benefits to its UK drivers.
But another study argues that automation, rather than taking jobs away from people, will actually provide more job openings for skilled workers. The study was conducted by Deloitte, a company that advises federal customers on how to incorporate robots into organizations.
The company’s report estimates that the federal government could save almost $41.1 billion by using more robots. In addition, the report states “large government job losses are unlikely,” leaving almost 25% of current workers open for more complex tasks.
This particular finding clashes with the Consumer Technology Association’s findings, which revealed almost 71% of executives polled were having difficulty finding workers skilled enough to fill positions created by robots opened up.
The future of automation and employment is certainly unstable, but these are the innovations that often allow modern society to thrive. Technology is constantly evolving in ways both large and small, from the release of the USB 2.0 specification in 2000 to the rise of self-driving cars in 2017. Whether those changes will ultimately prove to yield a net positive or negative for the economy and the world remains to be seen.
But according to both of these studies, further advancements in automation might not be such a scary prospect after all.