Technological advancements tend to be accompanied by doomsday cries and skepticism. This is definitely true for robotics. Many see the use of robotics as a threat to every job imaginable, especially those in the manufacturing sector.
The reality is more complicated and thankfully, much more positive in nature. Contrary to popular belief, robots are actually responsible for creating jobs and improving job quality. It's time we started seeing the robotics industry for what it is -- an opportunity, not a threat.
Robot Industry Adding New Jobs:
The robotics industry itself is often overlooked as a job provider. Robot manufacturing companies, robotic system integrators, as well as businesses that use robots, are creating new job opportunities. Many of these new jobs are technical in nature. These include mechanical and electrical engineers, computer software developers, technicians and electricians, tech support, training personnel, and maintenance staff members.
But not every robotics job requires an engineering degree. Other, less technical jobs created by the robot industry include management, administrative, sales, marketing, and many other positions.
Increased Productivity Leads to Job Creation:
The robotics industry, just like every technology that has preceded it, is changing the way work is accomplished and the types of jobs that are available. Robots provide a way for companies to increase productivity, safety, and quality while remaining competitive. This productivity leads to job creation, be it customer service (sales, administrative support) or technology-related (programmers, operators).
The job loss that can occur after robots are first introduced is frequently a temporary situation. According to a February 2011 USA Today article, "Higher productivity cuts jobs now, pays off in long term," the leaner, more effective manufacturing that robots usher in ultimately adds jobs.
New Industries and Flexibility:
Adjusting and finding a place to work alongside robots is dependent in part on the ingenuity and adaptability of workers. The Robotics Industries Association (RIA) recently highlighted a CBS story about a solar panel shingle company in Michigan that is creating jobs and relying heavily on automation. A number of the employees at Dow Chemical used to work in the automotive industry but lost their jobs. Now they are starting again with new technology and an entirely new solar power industry. The flexibility of these workers has opened doors to new employment horizons.
In a parallel story, a Wired blog post argued that the true victors are those who know how to work with these new technologies -- creatives and innovators who are taking advantage of the emerging age of robotics.
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