We have all seen films where machines or more specifically AI are taking over the planet and overthrowing mankind. Real automation vs. workforce scenario if one were to label it. And as technology and innovations continue to further progress, people are starting to wonder whether their fears that automation is in fact phasing out humans at least in the workplace are warranted. That is to say, the manufacturing industry is relying more and more on automation. Does this mean the human part of our workforce will soon be dated?
It does sound like a legitimate cause for concern. But, the reality is far simpler and less dramatic. In the case of automation vs. workforce, automated machinery has long been creeping into manufacturing and job shop floors. For example, virtual assistants, autonomous cars, IoT, 3D printing, etc. What we have already done is embrace automation whether at home or at work.
What Is Automation?
Let us go into detail about automation vs. workforce. Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. That is to say, predetermining decision norms, subprocess relationships, and related actions – and blending those predeterminations in machines can reduce human intervention. In addition, automation includes the use of various equipment and control systems. For example, machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat-treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering, and stabilisation of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with reduced human intervention.
That is to say, automation covers applications ranging from a household thermostat controlling a boiler to a large industrial control system with tens of thousands of input measurements and output control signals. It has also found space in the banking sector. It can range from simple on-off control to multi-variable high-level algorithms. With automation vs. workforce, there are four different types of automation. They are as such:
This type of automation takes simple tasks and automates them. This level of automation is about digitizing work by using tools to streamline and centralise routine tasks. That is to say, using a shared messaging system instead of having information in disconnected silos. For example, Business Process Management (BPM) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are two types of basic automation.
Process automation manages business processes for uniformity and transparency. Using this type of automation can increase productivity and efficiency within your business. It can also deliver new insights into business challenges and suggest solutions. Process mining and workflow automation are types of process automation.
This is where machines can mimic human tasks and repeat the actions once humans define the machine rules. One example is the “digital worker”. That is to say, people have defined digital workers as software robots that are trained to work with humans to perform specific tasks. They can be “hired” to work on teams because of their specific set of skills.
This is the most complex level of automation. The addition of AI means that machines can “learn” and make decisions based on past situations they have encountered and analyzed. For example, in customer service, virtual assistants powered can reduce costs while empowering both customers and human agents, creating an optimal customer service experience.
What Is Workforce?
Now let us learn about the workforce part of automation vs. workforce. The workforce is the labour pool either in employment or in unemployment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, state, or country. That is to say, the workforce of a country includes both the employed and the unemployed. To clarify, the labour force participation rate, LFPR is the ratio between the labour force and the overall size of their partner (that is to say, the national population of the same age range). The term generally excludes employers or management and can imply those involved in manual labour. It may also mean all those who are available for work.
There are two different types of workforce. They are as such:
Any sort of employment that is structured and paid in a formal way is known as formal labour. In addition, formal labour within a country contributes to that country’s gross national product. This type of employment is more reliable and generally yields higher income and greater benefits and securities.
Informal labour is labour that falls short of being a formal arrangement in law or practice. It is always unstructured and unregulated. The contribution of informal labourers is huge. It is expanding globally, most significantly in developing countries.
Automation And How It Impacts The Workforce
In our debate of automation vs. workforce, the World Economic Forum’s report “The Future of Jobs 2020” states that the global workforce is automating faster than expected, with 85 million jobs expected to be displaced by the end of 2025. But, they indicate that the robot revolution should create 97 million new jobs. Machines replacing humans in the workplace have been an endless concern since the Industrial Revolution and an increasing topic of discussion with the rise of automation in the last few decades. If there is anything that the pandemic has taught us, it is that humans are still a vital part of the workplace.
In many nations, it was clear that without these essential workers, many economies would suffer immensely. This resulted in industries clamouring to outfit their workers and workplaces with the mandated health and safety codes in order for their shops to resume much-needed operations. This proves that even the most high-tech industries need humans in order to operate. If anything, automation on job shop floors will create more opportunities. Think of these machines as supplemental rather than them taking over jobs. The presence of robots pushes us to create work that is a cut above the mechanical labour that these machines can produce.