Automation prompting employers to hire more human workers
- A majority of employers — 87% — plan to increase or maintain headcount due to automation, according to a report from ManpowerGroup. This is up slightly from last year, when 86% of the employers surveyed said they would be increasing or maintaining headcount because of technology.
- The global workforce solutions company asked 19,000 employers in 44 countries about the impact of automation on job growth in the next two years. Production and manufacturing employers anticipate the most change in headcount with 25% saying they will employ more people in the next year, while 20% say they will employee less.
- Global talent shortages are at a 12-year high, ManpowerGroup said in a statement, due in part to the skills gap; "Tech is here to stay and it's our responsibility as leaders to become Chief Learning Officers and work out how we integrate humans with machines," Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, said in the press release.
The debate over robot workers replacing human ones goes back many years and seems to be entrenched in popular culture. Yet as Manpower notes, the opposite seems to be true. The focus on robots eliminating jobs distracts from the real issue, Prising noted. Companies that are embracing technology are growing and that growth is producing a need for more and new kinds of jobs.
For this reason, more employers are turning to upskilling employees to meet present and anticipated staffing needs. Employees in what Manpower calls "declining industries" are especially at risk, and recent case studies — including one done in Las Vegas, where 65% of jobs in the city have the potential for automation — point to the growing need for employee development to prepare them for a new working world.
But, employers might need help in creating upskilling initiatives. A report issued earlier this month by the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicated that private employers may only be able to provide 25% of the reskilling needed to keep employees in the workforce. That number could be increased to 45% if private employers collaborated with stakeholders to reduce the time and cost of training. Public sector involvement could raise the numbers even higher. WEF says government can help as many as 77% of all at-risk employees.
The Trump Administration's approach has been to obtain pledges from companies and trade associations, while the U.S. Department of Labor has announced $100 million in grants for training and career service programs to help displaced workers.
Still, some employers are working to get ahead of the curve. Companies like Walmart are working with private partners to create career development programs that provide training for workers, even if that training eventually leads those employees outside of the organization.