Robots will not steal jobs... they could create extra roles

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:
The trouble with arguments about the future of robots/AI and employment that rely on historical ...

Posted by:

Despite ongoing fears and speculation that robots could steal British jobs, new data reveals that the majority of industry professionals (63.3%) have never witnessed job losses as a result of the introduction of robots or automated processes. Furthermore, over a third (36.7%) stated that robots have often resulted in job creation within their place of work.

The research was conducted amongst over 1,000 manufacturing professionals and was led by The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), a non-profit body for ergonomists and human factors practitioners, in collaboration with job site, CV-Library. The study sought to ascertain the true perception and reality of automation and robotics amongst those who experience it first-hand.

Key findings revealed that most professionals (72.6%) feel society is scare-mongered into believing robotics and automation are a negative progression. In addition:

  • Four out of five manufacturers (78.9%) feel more should be done to promote the benefits of automation and robotics in the workplace.
  • Almost half of industry professionals (45.8%) claim the business they work for does not communicate the benefits of automation to staff, particularly to those involved in first-hand production.
  • Unsurprisingly therefore, over half of industry professionals (52%) admit that there is resistance from employees when implementing new automated processes.

Furthermore, when asked who was responsible for promoting the benefits, respondents pointed the finger towards employers (80%) and technology suppliers (67.8%).

Commenting on the research results, Steve Barraclough, CEO of the CIEHF, said: “Robots and automation are regularly given a bad name. However, whilst automation might remove some mundane and repetitive jobs, it also makes a significant contribution to 'upskilling' employees, which is often overlooked.”

Automation requires programmers and maintainers in areas where they may not have been previously necessary. This presents an opportunity to businesses and manufacturers that are embracing change.

Barraclough continued: “It’s essential to keep people at the heart of new technology and to ‘on-board’ staff at the earliest opportunity. Human factors plays a significant role in the on-boarding process and is essential to ensuring employees are not resistant to change.”

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, concludes: “Skills shortages are an ongoing concern across a number of industries, so it’s refreshing to hear that new technologies and processes in the workplace can help to close this gap and support businesses in upskilling their workforce.”

This material is protected by MA Business copyright see Terms and Conditions.
One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.


The trouble with arguments about the future of robots/AI and employment that rely on historical data, is that the future they attempt to use deductive reasoning to reach conclusions about, will be very different from the past.

At no point in human history was it possible to completely eliminate human labour from economic production & yet that point is coming.

What's the point in using data from a completely different reality to talk about this?

It's obvious looking at AI & Robotics in 2017 - that by 2030 or thereabouts we will have general purpose robots capable of any physical work, ditto AI for most white collar work.

The question to ask here is "How can free market economics survive as our predominant economic organizing principle?"

Robots/AI will be able to do the future jobs that haven't been invented yet & the bigger issue ( indeed the main pertinent issue) - humans won't be able to compete with them economically in a free market economy.

Robots/AI - will work 24/7/365 for pennies an hour, will never need social security or health contributions & will be on a Moore's Law trajectory of constantly doubling in power & halving in cost.

Any future business with human employees who tries to compete with a similar business with robots/AI employees is doomed to failure in a free market economy.

This reality is coming and it is a completely different set of circumstances than any historical data models.

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code