How we work is changing. With the rise of automation and AI is forcing a shift in how we approach work. For businesses this means that there is a push to retrain or “upskill” their workers to retain existing workers, and to help future proof their workforce. Organizations will need to invest in their employees to ensure their workforce has the necessary skills to be competitive in the ever-changing marketplace. For HR professionals this will require some analysis to address both current and potential skills gaps. Work is changing, it will be up to HR professionals to stay ahead of the curve.
Impact of Automation in Manufacturing
Many occupations in the future may be automated. As technology develops, many occupations may be eliminated or at least highly automated. Automation may vary based on sector and occupation, but virtually almost every occupation will be affected by automation to some extent. The types of activities that can be automated are activities that have highly predictable or rule following based. For physical activities, manufacturing would likely see an increase in automation. From vision systems for quality control, to highly automated manufacturing processes, less workers are needed to produce the same product than was needed even ten years ago.
Most likely the machine operator occupation will be eliminated by automation, however the need for machine programmers and maintenance skills will likely increase. For manufacturing companies investing in upskilling current machine operators to become maintenance and machine programmers would help retain talented workers to fill future operational needs. Automation has already made a huge impact in manufacturing by reducing production times, increasing volume production, less human error, and improve safety. There are some disadvantages, but as technology so will the costs and issues with automation. Currently the largest disadvantage is the initial investment in automation. Machines are expensive, but so is labor and machines do not have many of the issues labor does. Reskilling or upskilling your labor force will allow manufacturing companies to retain top talent, while shedding occupations to automation.
Impact of Automation in other Sectors
Many occupations that rely on processing data will quickly become automated. Automation and AI can collect and process data faster than humans. Occupations, that rely on basic book-keeping tasks, collecting and processing data, will be subject to automation forcing these positions to change or for them to be eliminated. Already, automation has changed operations with automated telephone systems that direct calls, website customer service bots, insurance underwriting, and more have been changed how we do work. As technology changes, how we work changes, however it is important to analyze our current workforce to see if we need to hire new talent with the skills we need, or if we can retain our current employees and reskill them to fit future needs.
Impact on HR
HR professionals need to prepare for the impact of automation for their organizations. The first step is getting a grip on what roles will change or potentially changes produced by technology. Also, identifying the employees that will be affected and selecting the employees that have either the potential for developing new skills or currently have the skills needed in the future. Understanding your current workforce will provide advantages when adopting a reskilling or retraining initiative. It is important for HR professionals to identify and hire new talent that will have the necessary skills needed in the future. To ensure your company does not fall behind the curve, having a system that collects employee data related to skills, performance, education, will help better prepare HR professionals for transitions due to automation.
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