“I tell people, when you’re ready to send your family up in an airplane without a pilot, then people will start to look at the possibility of an 80,000-pound vehicle going down the road unmanned,” said
Automation has for years widely changed the workforce and economy. Companies pursuing efficiency and safety found machines increasingly viable in achieving these goals, often at detriment to workers who lose jobs and income in the process.
The next wave of automation is looming. A recent study predicts it will hit
“Automation substitutes for labor,” the report states. “This is the fundamental purpose of workplace technology. If a machine can do a task currently done by humans, it will do it with greater precision, speed, and at a lower cost.”
‘Future of jobs’
The report depicts a striking job outlook. It expects by 2030 that roughly 36 percent of employment nationally will face “medium” automation exposure.
“You’ve been hard hit. These trends are distinct and vivid, and troublesome for the region, but they’re not the end of the story,”
When determining an occupation’s exposure risk,
By this measure, nearly half of all tasks in
“This is a metric and a story that is particularly important in the Midwest, there’s no doubt about it, and particularly important for
As technology has become more affordable and capable, traditionally service-industry job tasks are increasingly automated,
The region’s occupations with highest employment levels and most tasks at “high risk” of automation replacement are food preparation and service, waitstaff, truck driving, stocking and order filling, and packaging, according to the report.
The most popular occupations with tasks at “low risk” of such replacement are registered nursing, laborers and freight moving, janitorial and cleaning work, customer service, and general and operations managing.
Finally, the fastest-growing area of “low risk” jobs are personal care aides, petroleum engineers, meeting and event planners, community health workers, and marketing research and marketing specialists.
Workers with a bachelor’s degree are expected to fare much better in the more automated working world. The study suggests communities and employers embrace technology, promote continual education, enable smooth changes at work, and ease challenges for struggling employees.
“Much of what is going to be automated are things that are unpleasant parts of jobs, in theory, as these technologies can free up human power to do more interesting things,”
While findings regarding service jobs are concerning, every city in this part of the country should have similar worry. It is not unique to
“The report speaks to the need for
In a statement, company spokesman
“Robots are often better-suited for jobs that require exacting precision or could compromise the safety of the operator,” she said. “On the other side, humans are equally as important in providing specialized skills that robots lack, like problem-solving, critical thinking, or complex dexterity.”
A driver’s seat and steering wheel
In addition to running a
Truck manufacturers are still designing vehicles for 10 years from now with a driver’s seat and steering wheel,
He questioned their ability to navigate snow and freezing rain, or a deer suddenly jumping in front of the truck. Workers are still needed to back in the vehicle.
“There are so many holistic issues involved in the trucking industry that need to be considered, more than just the technical aspect of designing a truck that can drive itself,”
Outsourcing led to most of this reduction, but some of it resulted from automation,
“Change is coming. We need to capture that, and be good stewards of that. We can’t just go, ‘I wish it were the past,’ ”
For industries facing new automation exposure,
“How do we provide meaningful employment for people that want it, but aren’t capable?” he said.
In a company statement, spokesman
Amazon’s purchase of
Kroger added the service to its
A benefit is these innovations present an opportunity to organize a new group of technical workers,
But the economy is based on continued consumption, which requires people having money to spend,
“My concern is, what are we going to do with the masses of people when these perceived entry-level positions are no longer there? It’s like finding someone who pumps your gas for you,”
At a recent OhioMeansJobs Lucas County job fair, applicants made their in-person pitch at various company stands. Adient, Courtyard by Marriott, FedEx, and
Still, some patrons actually refuse to order by kiosk, mistakenly believing those machines take away jobs,
“People eat when they can, especially [with] busy schedules or if they have meetings,”
“One of the things that we really want to put in front of job seekers are career-path opportunities, and jobs that have living wages,”
Programs are also in place for daycare, transportation, mental health, and substance abuse, she said.
“You’re going to need someone to fix that machine when it doesn’t work. You’re going to need someone to replace that machine when it does stop working,” she said.
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