Monday, January 16, 2017

Automation Nation

 For years we have heard about manaufacturing jobs being eliminated by automation.  In fact since the year 2000, the U.S. has lost 5 million manaufacturing jobs.  A report from Ball State University concludes that while trade was responsible for 13% of these job losses, the rest were lost due to automation. Everyone has seen video of robots on factory floors, performing repetitive tasks such as welding or lifting heavy parts.  By the end of 2017, there will be nearly 2 million robots operating worldwide.  South Korea, Japan and Germany have the most robots per manufacturing employee, while the U.S. is in fourth place.  
  But automation is moving beyond just robotics and now includes any jobs which can be done by computers.  The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 45% of the activities people are paid to do today could be automated using technologies that are currently available.  Automation has already had a significant impact in the fields of Finance, Law, and Healthcare, and is rapidly moving into other disciplines.  It's time for us all to give some serious thought to how to stay relevant in this new world.


  1. Greetings, Doug.
    Education inflation is increasing at a much higher rate than inflation, in general. For many students, the soaring education costs put them in a precarious position.
    Employers have stated difficulty in finding qualified employees to fill positions...a lot of which involve tech.
    What is your take on schools, employers or partnerships to develop programs to educate students for these positions?

  2. You're right, there are a huge number of unfilled tech jobs in the U.S. Clearly we need to do a better job of matching up education with the needs of the marketplace.

  3. Sure. We need to train for tech jobs in the short term. But educating programmers will not compensate for the impact of automation in the long term (2-3 generations out).

    What does a world that has mostly automated labor look like? Is there potential for a post-work society?

  4. Sobering yet realistic assessment of the current and future state of employment and employee readiness as the ascent of technology is only destined to move at a rapid pace globally. The United States' 4th place position is disturbing. The challenge is as we look to confront that enhanced pace of technology, strategies must also focus on employee preparedness, which includes training and the development of increased rapid learning agility, as well as huge investments in our technology infrastructure. Absent that we're in a slow race to stay ahead. That's not good enough.