Outsourcing to other Nations or Robots, or Both?

It has become quite fashionable to declare that robots and automation is taking over the world and that soon there will be no jobs for the majority of the population as machines will have them all. There has been abundant evidence to show that robotics has emerged as the major motivation for job loss (as opposed to outsourcing jobs to other nations). There is also evidence to show that there has been more positive influence than people assume.

Analysis: A report issued this week from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation asserts that much of the assessment of technology’s impact is inaccurate and that the idea of robots taking over most jobs is a myth. Much of the evidence points in a far different direction. It is not that technology is not affecting jobs, it is that these impacts are far less dramatic than changes in the past have been.

The most convulsive period in the nation’s history was when the agriculture economy gave way to the manufacturing economy in the 1800s.  Prior to the changes in history the farm sector employed over 40% of the population and today less than 2% of the nation’s employees are directly engaged in farming.

There have been other convulsive periods that have been more recent. The report points out that in the 1960s the rise of office work and the arrival of the Baby Boom generation meant the addition of some 600,000 high school teachers and 700,000 maintenance people for these new offices. Women were scarcely 25% of the workforce in 1970 and in 1999 the percentage peaked at around 60%.

Today it has declined a little to just over 47%. It would be expected that churn would be more pronounced with all the new technology but the fact is that churn is lower than it has been in decades. The machine has indeed taken over routine and mechanical jobs but at the same time the consumer has been gravitating to the kinds of service offerings that can’t be automated or mechanized and there is abundant evidence that new technologies generate need for new workers with new skills. It becomes a matter of getting these skills into the hands of those that are seeking jobs.

Source: Armada Corporate Intelligence