Automation, robots and artificial intelligence will bring a bigger shift than industrialisation

Automation, robots and artificial intelligence will bring a bigger shift than industrialisation

A new report from the global consulting firm McKinsey and Co. says heavy government investment in job training, education and unemployment assistance will be needed to mitigate automation's costs to labor. Physical jobs in predictable environments are the most susceptible to automation; these include operating machinery and fast-food jobs. Experts say workers must develop new skills to adapt to the future.

Within the report, named "Jobs lost, jobs gained: workforce transitions in a time of automation", McKinsey highlights that many firms will turn to automated solutions such as robotics and AI due to the enhanced benefits that they offer.

While the study suggests that some countries and employers may be tempted to raise wages to keep valued workers, the fight for bigger paychecks has already pushed US companies like CaliBurger to switch to a fully automated kitchen staff. The U.S. and other advanced economies that have wages which are higher, are more vulnerable to labor saving technology being adopted.

In contrast, automation will have a more muted effect on jobs that involve expertise, managing people and those that require frequent social interactions.

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In the short term, automation and new technology could mean "significant" displacement of workers, the report says.

They note, however, those new jobs don't always pay as much as the old ones. "But their spending patterns also shift, creating more jobs in areas such as consumer durables, leisure activities, financial and telecommunication services, housing, health care, and education". And McKinsey researchers expect aging populations to need more medical care - more doctors, nurses, home health workers and aides - while demand goes down for children's teachers and doctors.

Highlighting that India is now at the mid-point of the demographic dividend phenomenon which is expected to continue for another 20-25 years, the paper says there are several related concerns, including projected upward trends in automation leading to job losses and disproportionately slower growth in creation of jobs as compared to growth in output.

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