Robotics and Future Employment Opportunities

They’re Stealing Our Jobs!

Robotics and Future Employment Opportunities

By Maryam Nazir Chaudhary

 

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The world has undergone a series of industrial revolutions, the first involving mechanized production using steam, whereas the discovery of electricity brought on the second industrial revolution. The third industrial revolution was prompted by electronics and information technology, allowing for automated production.

The globe now finds itself in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, one in which “the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” is blurred. The fourth industrial revolution is heavily characterized by cyber-physical systems, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. The possibilities are now endless, with unlimited access to knowledge and computing power. Every day brings a new innovation, from self-driving cars to symbiosis between microorganisms.

Technology has completely changed the way the world works, allowing processes to function with unprecedented efficiencies. Companies are now heavily reliant on such electronics as they not only allow for low costs and fast production but also maintain consistency in the quality of products and supply chains. But, as technology continues to revolutionize the world, the importance of human labor appears to diminish.

 

Technology and the Job Market

With the advent of AI, robotics, and automation, major job changes are inevitable. The first-ever study on AI and its effects on employment concluded that up to 47% of activities associated with employment are under high risk of being displaced by automation within the next two decades. The study further stated that the salary of a job was inversely proportional to the probability of the job becoming automated. Similarly, many are unanimous in that half of the entire US labor force will disappear. A 2019 report by McKinsey Global Institute determined that millions of jobs would cease to exist by 2030. On a more local level, more than 54% of all jobs in Malaysia are predicted to become obsolete with advancements in technology.

Apart from a reduction in occupations, the fourth industrial revolution also brings with it negative mental and psychological effects. Job insecurity is defined as the “sense of powerlessness to maintain desired continuity in a threatened job situation.” Due to job insecurity, employees are more likely to struggle with depression and cynicism. The possibility of their careers becoming redundant negatively impacts their commitment, employment satisfaction, and trust in organizations.

Although automation will eliminate some jobs, it will also ultimately create novel ways of working, new occupations, and generate entire industries. In today’s competitive world, it is vital for companies to invest in technology, subsequently compelling them to restructure and reshape themselves. To prepare themselves for such major job changes, employees must improve, enhance, and even alter their skill sets.

 

Moving Forward

As technology seeps into every nook and cranny of our lives, it is imperative that the workforce stays abreast of technology by constantly cultivating new skills and remaining adaptable. The main purpose of technology is not to abolish vocations but to take over mundane tasks. The necessity of emotional and intellectual skills such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and coordination will never diminish. Moreover, humans remain unique, possessing irreplaceable soft skills such as creativity, empathy, and motivation. Technology will not supersede humans; rather, both will complement one another, with neither being able to work without the other.

As the job market is constantly shifting and changing, so too should institutions of learning. Unfortunately, schools and universities are unable to keep up the pace with the business ecosystem and continue preparing students for careers that have long since become redundant and non-existent. To avoid the incredibly probable risk of becoming obsolete, the academic world must align with the corporate world and adjust their teaching approach accordingly. Skillsets of the future involving critical thinking and creativity must be nurtured in future generations if they are to remain relevant and competitive candidates in the age of technology.

In conclusion, if individuals wish to remain employable in the modern workplace, they must be highly adaptable and learn to apply technology in order to achieve their goals. It is essential that employees incorporate continuous learning and the openness to modify their approach constantly within their work ethics, to better align with the current trend of technology.

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