‘Human-robot collaboration needed to counter 0.6 million job threat’
1 Nov 2017
An estimated 0.6 million UK jobs will disappear in one industrial sector alone over the next 20 years due to the effects of automation and robotic technology, says a new survey.
Consultants Mace said there would be significant reductions in traditional occupations as technology evolved. While the survey focuses on the construction industry, its conclusions mirror estimates for other areas.
Chief executive, Mark Reynolds, said that the advent of automation would create significant demand for labour too. However, this would be overwhelmingly focused on white collar IT and technical staff, with a need for more than 5,000 recruits annually for the next four years.
While reskilling employees would involve substantial cost, the report estimated it would boost the economy by an extra £25 billion.
Commenting on the report and its implications for many industrial sectors, Martin Walder, VP Industry at Schneider Electric, said the development of automation and artificial intelligence would rely on greater human-robot collaboration – so-called ‘cobotics’.
“Developments in dexterity, reliability and flexibility through machine ability to conduct precise and repeatable operations need to be combined with human skills and operability – the ability to see, feel, touch and think,” he said.
This would achieve significant economic and resource efficiencies by tackling complex tasks faster and safer added Walder.
“We still need machines in this human-machine construction interface; we need them to do the “dirty” work – the manual and often the most dangerous or monotonous tasks so we can keep our workforces safe. Our longevity relies on optimal collaboration and with greater control to realise true benefits in terms of safety and profitability.”