Automation has been a great tool for companies, as it has helped them increase production and lower their prices while earning more profit. However, it has had irreparable effects on the job market, changing the way job seekers search for and find employment. Whether you’re an employer or someone looking for a job, here are just a few ways that automation might be changing the workforce landscape.
Image via Flickr by Bernard Spragg
Fewer Labor Jobs
In the past, there were millions of jobs across the country dedicated to labor-intensive tasks like mining and manufacturing. These days, robots are taking the helm when it comes to industry, forcing many blue-collar workers out of work.
For example, places previously known for forging natural materials, such as Pittsburgh, are currently going through a revolution. Instead of having a surplus of steel jobs, this city is having a surge of robotics manufacturing and design openings. Nearby cities are following suit, causing experts to rechristen the old Rust Belt as the Robot Belt.
Another example of this is in the trucking industry, where self-driving vehicles seem poised to take over. As many as 1.7 million truck drivers could be without a job in the next 10 years if truck automation catches on.
What does this mean for workers who don’t have the education to get into robotics? They’ll have to look elsewhere for employment or develop their skills to find a new position. As for truckers, they may be relegated to monitoring the self-driving trucks or hauling trucks to drop-off points.
More Skilled Jobs
Just because there are fewer labor-intensive jobs, doesn’t mean the job market will decline. In fact, it means the opposite. As of 2018, the United States job market hit the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, with 6.6 million job openings. Overall, businesses across the country are in deep need of qualified workers to fill roles in many STEM fields.
Because of this, qualifications and experience will be even more important in the field. Many entry-level jobs are being automated, meaning that companies are looking for people who can perform more skilled tasks. While this doesn’t mean you need a four-year degree, it may mean you need some type of formal education to advance.
More Flexibility and Entrepreneurship
These days, it’s rare for a person to get a job in their early 20s and stay there until they retire 40 years later. The job market is much more flexible and constantly changing, meaning that job seekers will have to be ready to change careers at the drop of a hat.
This also means that entrepreneurship opportunities are on the rise. If people can’t find the work they’re looking for, they may opt to start their own business and earn money on their own terms. While this offers less security, it does give workers the chance to gain real-world experience and curate their skills.
Overall, automation isn’t a death sentence for those in the American workplace. Instead, it’s a chance to catch a ride on a transforming landscape and see what the future holds.