07.10.2020

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Job automation: what will its impact be in the years to come?

The constant development of new technologies affects business activities and the way we perform our day-to-day professional tasks. In the coming years, the automation of some tasks will continue on a massive scale. What are the consequences of this trend for businesses? What strategy should a company adopt to address it?

 

 

Automation and robotization: essential steps

 

Technological developments have always affected the way companies operate, as well as the way people do their jobs. In the coming years, as artificial intelligence becomes more effective, automation and robotization will play a bigger role in companies. Indeed, AI can perform many simple, repetitive tasks with little or no human intervention.

 

Job automation is bound to occur, to some degree, in all industries. Indeed, companies that can harness it have little reason not to: automation delivers key benefits. It:

 

  • reduces human error
  • saves money
  • frees up employees to focus on higher value-added tasks.

 

Related: What’s job automation?

 

 

What lies ahead?

 

Technological progress, including automation, simplifies the organization of work and contributes to improved performance. However, it also has drawbacks. The big one is that it destroys jobs in the short and medium term: a phenomenon known as “technological unemployment”. According to a Eurostat study published in 2018, as many as 6 million low-skilled jobs will have disappeared by 2025 due to digital transformation.

 

Even when it doesn’t actually destroy jobs, automation is a key trend affecting the world of work – and will remain so in the years to come. A study carried out by Boostrs experts and published in a white paper The impact of automation on skills and jobs: who needs a skill boost?reveals that the job automation index currently averages 59%. In practice, this means that more than half of the work performed in the context of a job could already be automated, using today’s technology. This foreshadows considerable change within companies.

« 6 million unskilled jobs will be lost by 2025 due to digital transformation. »

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Complex tasks involving considerable human interaction are unlikely to be automated. For example, employees from Human Resources and executives are less exposed. On the other hand, jobs that depend on machines and involve administrative or repetitive tasks are at a higher risk.

 

 

How to react to some jobs’ imminent automation?

 

The future and very survival of companies are at stake. Rather than simply lament the impact of automation on some professions, it is highly recommended to think ahead and plan now the evolution of labor in our business environments.

 

The first step in this planning process is to take stock of the situation. What jobs and skills are available internally? And which of these are likely to be automated in the short to medium run? Accurate data plays a critical role for the success of this analysis. You obtain it by implementing strategic workforce planning (SWP) methodologies, based on the reliable and dynamic mapping of jobs and skills.

 

The second stage is training. To futureproof your workforce, your company needs to roll out the training activities required to cope with the evolution of skills, prioritizing those employees most exposed to the risk of automation. For them, the acquisition of new technical skills and soft skills is indispensable.

 

However, it is worth noting that of the 25 million training actions delivered in France each year, most are compulsory courses (on safety, hygiene or environmental compliance) aimed at workers with few or no qualifications: the very ones who are the most exposed to the risk of automation. The acquisition of new skills often plays second fiddle to these mandatory measures. It is high time to broaden the range of training opportunities to ensure these workers’ ongoing employability.

 

Some companies omit training time in their activity schedules. This is a short-sighted approach. Without continued training, they run the risk of quickly becoming outdated.

 

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The imminent disappearance of some jobs should be considered in the light of skills’ lifespan, given the associated technological and market developments. This lifespan currently averages five years. In short, to remain efficient and competitive, companies have no other choice than to invest in continuously training their employees.

 

Related: Job automation: the transfer of workers and the evolution of skills

"The impact of automation on skills and jobs: who needs a skill boost?"

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Illustration credits: https://www.istockphoto.com/fr/portfolio/onblast