Will Robotic Automation Replace Manforce? This Study Would Surprise You

Homer from the popular T.V. series "The Simpsons" Image credits: Fox Broadcasting Company

Technology is growing at an unparalleled rate everyday. In particular, advances in the manufacture and automation sector has rekindled a growing debate.

Will humans lose their jobs to automated processes?


ManpowerGroup certainly doesn’t seem to think so. They recently released a report entitled The Skills Revolution – a concise but comprehensive explanation of the relationship between workers and digitization.

The report’s methodology was fairly simple: 18,000 people from 43 countries in 6 different industry sectors were asked about how they foresee the advancement of technology affecting their businesses in the next two years, as well as if and how they’ve prepared their workforce for it.

 “We are seeing the emergence of a Skills Revolution — where helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time.” A bold opener from the report, as said by the Chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup, Jonas Prising.

Employers are anticipating change. Three out of four business leaders believe automation will require new skills over the next couple of years. The necessity for new skills is huge, with 65% of the new jobs expected for the younger generation not even existing yet.

This prediction is backed up and asserted by the World Economic Forum.

On average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today” they explain.

Automation: Robots replacing Manpower?
83% of people surveyed do not think digitization will reduce the workforce. Image credits: Manpower Group

As mentioned in the report, “Up to 45% of the tasks people are paid to do each day could be automated with current technology.” This data can be worrisome to many people who feel their job is at risk, especially in specific countries where digitization is expected to replace workers. However, it doesn’t seem like this is the case.

Most employers expect automation and the adjustment to digitization will bring a net gain for employment. Eighty-three percent intend to maintain or increase their headcount and upskill their people in the next two years. Only 12% of employers plan to decrease headcount as a result of automation” explains the report.

Automation: Robots replacing Manpower?
Geographical representation of where and how digitization will affect the workforce. Image credits: Manpower Group

There is a significant cultural split on whether the introduction of automation will risk the loss of jobs or not. Countries such as Switzerland, Finland, Slovakia and especially India are concerned that a large percentage of jobs are going to be lost.

Conversely, countries such as Peru, the USA and Italy are optimistic that the introduction of automation will actually increase the workforce by up to 40%.

Automation: Robots replacing Manpower?
Image credits: Manpower Group

Of course, it’s the specific types of jobs that differentiate between being more or less at risk from the introduction of automation. With the increase of digital processes, it’s likely that IT jobs will become available with an expected 26% overall increase in potential jobs.

Due to needing vast amount of machinery for automation, there will be large volumes of data. Every country, therefore, are expecting a large increase in data analysts, even the countries that are anticipating an overall decline in jobs.

Almost three-quarters are investing in internal training to keep skills up to date, 44% are recruiting additional skill sets rather than replacing and more than a third are easing the transformation by bringing in contractors or third parties to transfer expert skills to their own workforce.

Automation: Robots replacing Manpower?
Image credits: Manpower Group

Many of the surveyed employers are taking preventative and reactive measures to “future-proof” their workforce from automation. From teaching additional skills to their staff from experts and through training, to recruiting new members of staff to complement the existing skill sets, many companies are keen to keep their current workforce flourishing.

Manpower Group’s report shows that the vast majority of employers are welcoming automation as a supplement to their workforce rather than a replacement. With the uptake of new processes and new skills, many new jobs are expected to be made.

Technological advancements are being made rapidly. Companies are preparing methods to embrace the new changes and capitalize on the new skill sets that will be welcomed with these new changes.

Now is the time for leaders to be responsive and responsible: we cannot slow the rate of technological advance or globalization, but we can invest in employees’ skills to increase the resilience of our people and organizations.

Sooner or later, robotic automation will enter your work domain whether you like it or not. The only question is how do we prepare for it.

Video credits: Jonathan Stickland (Youtube)


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Source Manpower Group World Economic Forum Jonathan Stickland

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