Yes, robots are coming for our jobs, but the casualties won't be as bad as experts once thought. According to Forrester Research's Future Of Jobs report, released Monday, automation and robotics will displace 24.7 million jobs by 2027, while also creating 14.9 million new jobs in the same time period, leading to a net loss of 9.8 million US jobs.
Now, 9.8 million jobs is still a huge number, but it pales in comparison to the 69 million jobs figure that is often cited by industry experts. For those unfamiliar, that number comes from a 2013 paper out of Oxford University that claimed 47% of US jobs (or 69 million) were at a high risk of being automated. Forrester's report seems to point to a much smaller impact.
The lost 9.8 million jobs seems to echo what we saw in the US economic recession that occurred from 2007 to 2009. During that time, automation was used as a cost-cutting method, eliminating many jobs that never came back, the report said. The US labor participation rate dropped from 66.4% in January 2007 to 62.9% in January 2017, the report noted.
In terms of what jobs will face the highest displacement, manual labor repetitive menial tasks will be the most impacted. However, not all white collar jobs are safe—for example, IBM is now leveraging cognitive computing in Watson to better understand medical research and read imagery to assist radiologists.
The industries at the biggest risk for automation are construction and mining, factory products, office assistants, and sales people, the report said. But, new roles will be created in human-machine resources, along with additional management and professional duties.
In addition to these intellectual and physical tasks, automation will also impact customer service, the report said. Restaurant ordering kiosks and online shopping agents are just some of the ways that automation will change the customer experience, the report noted.
Despite eliminating certain roles, automation will also transform other aspects of human work. By automating routine tasks and taking on some of the issues of optimization, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can free up certain employees to focus on higher-level work, the report said. The report predicts that, by 2018, every job category will be affected by automation by at least 25%.
To better weather the storm of automation, Forrester recommends developing a strategic plan for automation and focusing on the impact to the customer, not necessarily the cost involved. Interested parties can purchase and read the full report here.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Robots will take 24.7 million jobs by 2027, but create 14.9 million new jobs in the same time period, leading to a net loss of 9.8 million jobs, according to a new Forrester Research report.
- Manual jobs in construction and mining will be the most impacted, but white color jobs in medicine and office work will also be impacted.
- Businesses should focus on the customer and develop a strategy for dealing with automation's impact on their industry.
- Why the number of jobs that will be replaced by robots is lower than you think (TechRepublic)
- The first 10 jobs that will be automated by AI and robots (ZDNet)
- Why AI could destroy more jobs than it creates, and how to save them (TechRepublic)
- Don't worry, robots and AI won't take your job: Well, at least not all of it (ZDNet)
- The next big job in tech: Robot programmer (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.