Will robots decimate West Berks jobs?

  • Millions more jobs are predicted to be lost to automation in the hunt for efficiency

  • Bill Gates has suggested a robot tax for businesses scrapping jobs for machinery

  • Strong unions are also joining the fight against tech

Robo-workers are replacing humans at an ever-increasing rate. In Japan there is a hotel staffed by robots. In France Wall-Ye Vine picking robots help farmers cut, prune and harvest crops. While in England, Premier Foods use 47 robots to pack Mr Kipling cakes in Barnsley. So is the rise of the robots a bad thing? Will we all lose our jobs to automation?

Automation has always been there: think the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution for instance. And there has (probably!) always been resistance. But things feel a little different this time. Today artificial intelligence and advanced production techniques hint at there being no end to the rise of the robots. Millions more jobs are predicted to be lost to automation. Perhaps this will be great for efficiency, but it raises a lot of HR issues and wider ethical debate

In February Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, suggested that governments should introduce a robot tax – to make up for lost tax revenue from human workers and to help fund retraining into other jobs where empathy is essential.

A robot tax is therefore an interesting solution because it not only levels the playing field when making a business case against employing humans, but also generates tax revenue to retrain people. The care industry, teaching and childcare need the human touch and they are all crying out for investment. What an opportunity a taxed robot workforce could present for getting human resources to these sectors!

It’s clear that technology is going to have a growing influence on the workforce. Consideration must be given to how humans are to be managed in the changing world. Unions are already gearing up for a fight as the Southern Rail debacle shows. Perhaps it is worth investing time now to ensure that as a robot workforce is introduced, it benefits all of society – not just the bottom lines of companies.

Email: Katie.Aldridge@hrdept.co.uk Web: http://www.hrdept.co.uk/offices/newbury

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