20 MILLION JOBS AROUND THE GLOBE WILL BE LOST TO ROBOTS BY 2030: STUDY

20 MILLION JOBS AROUND THE GLOBE WILL BE LOST TO ROBOTS BY 2030: STUDY

From household equipment to manufacturing tools, machines have become an integral part of human lives as the world’s economy progresses. Its makes life easier as most of the work is carried out by the machines. However, this ease of labour in the workforce may cost us our livelihood in the future.

A new study by Oxford Economics, a UK-based research firm, has reported that by 2030, robots will assume 20 million manufacturing jobs globally.

Furthermore, this displacement of jobs will not be uniform on the global scale as the regions with fragile economies and high unemployment rates will be worse hit.

As of now, 1.7 million manufacturing positions have been taken over by robots since 2000, which includes 550,000 jobs in China and 400,000 in Europe. These numbers do not seem to be stopping anytime soon. The study states that the rate of human labour displaced by robots is increasingly steadily.

Mr James Lambert, one of the lead authors of the study, asserts that this robotics revolution escalates with advancements in technology. This rapid growth in technology will see the robots improving in their abilities as they take over human labour. He further noted that by 2030, it is expected that the number of robots will be multiplied by 10 from the number now.

The authors of the study noticed that the main proprietors of the world’s robot stock has gone to the hands of new manufacturers, mainly in China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Brazil and Poland.

In fact, one fifth of the world’s robots, that is one in three robots, is currently stocked in China. It is expected that China will have as many as 14 million industrial robots by 2030.

On the other hand, the total robot inventory of the United States and Europe has seen a dip in their global share from 50% in 2009 to 40% currently. Japan has also cut down on its operational stock of robots to 100,000 since 2000.

The study anticipated that coupled with sharp growth on artificial intelligence (AI) and engineering, we would be able to see the employment of robots in the services industries in the next five years. This acquisition of jobs by the robots will not stop with the manufacturing and service industries, but seep into the healthcare, retail, hospitality and transport sectors, as well.

Mr Lambert asserts that the consequences of this switch to machine labour would include a growth spurt in productivity and the economy, and the rise in new types of jobs. The study foresees that the 30% increase in workplace robots by 2030 will add USD4.9 trillion to the global economy.

At the same time, Mr Lambert also warns that the current business models will be reorganised, and millions of workers will be deposed. This ramification will heavily affect the lower-skilled labourers and the less developed economies. Governments, policymakers, business and individuals must prepare for this new wave of the tech-driven industrial revolution.

In the case of Singapore, Mr Lambert notes that this island-state is ready to benefit from the influx of robots into various industries. This is due to the country’s progressive infrastructure, favourable regulatory framework and a strong investment environment.

Furthermore, the Singapore government has also looked out for its labour force by implementing schemes to retrain and upgrade their skills as their jobs are displaced by technology. Robots may be particularly welcomed in Singapore to keep pushing the economy, while the country faces issues in ageing population and immigrant influx.