Automation brings rewards to companies that invest. The auto industry has installed many thousands of robots over the last 10 years – numbers of employed people have fallen, quality has risen, productivity is up.
Great for the companies -and their shareholders: not so good for those now unemployed workers whose jobs have gone to the robots.
Of course in some industries and sectors , using robots is not quite so easy – automation requires highly repetitive, highly standardised, highly consistent work. Robots are fast, regular and relentless – but nowhere near as flexible and adaptable as humans.
However, we are now seeing the rise of a new generation of ‘co-bots’, machines that work with humans to take out some of the effort and drudgery of tasks while allowing humans to exercise their flexibility and control.
And one section of the workforce is gaining more than the rest – women. Where work requires precision and strength, women can provide the precision while the cobot provides the strength. Productivity rises, work improves.
We need to work with the ‘bots’.