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According to a survey by Capgemini Research Institute, by 2022, businesses could save up to $165 billion by the large-scale adoption of automation across different sectors of the industry including manufacturing, automotive, retail, and utilities. Cost savings, speedy delivery, and streamlined operations are among the many reasons why automation is increasingly creeping up the workforce ladder.
As machines are increasingly complementing human labor in the workplace, it is resulting in a major paradigm shift in the workforce industry.
The recent technological advances in AI and ML have revolutionized the ways in which machines can function – today machines can perform a host of diverse functions and tasks that were beyond our imagination just a decade ago.
Automation has become an integral part of the industry as it helps enhance productivity, boosts the value for businesses, and drives economic growth. Most importantly, it is assisting organizations to offer speedy delivery of solutions to numerous real-world problems – the reason why automation has become inevitable in the workforce.
According to a McKinsey survey of over 2000 work activities spanning across 800 occupations, there are specific categories of activities that are more susceptible to automation than others. These activities fall under the ‘low skilled’ category that demands minimal abstract thinking and are performed in highly predictable and structured environments (for instance, data collection).
Although almost all occupations will be impacted by automation, only 5% of occupations will be subject to full-fledged automation. The least susceptible categories include those that require high-level expertise and human cognizance (for instance, managing people and interacting with stakeholders). The McKinsey analysis finds that nearly 30% of the activities in 60 percent of all occupations could be automated. What does this mean?
It indicates that in the near future, almost all workers at every level – be it a welder to a company CEO – will be working with highly advanced machines. As a result, both the nature of the occupations and their required skill set will undergo a change.
Thanks to automation, the shift in workforce skills will be accelerated – there’ll be an increasing demand for advanced technological skills (like programming) and also for social, emotional, and higher cognitive skills (like critical thinking, creativity, and complex information processing).
As for the fundamental digital skills, the demand will continue to grow. While the demand for physical and manual skills is bound to decline, these will still remain the largest category of workforce skills in many countries till 2030.
In the face of this inevitable force – automation – the only way to stay relevant would be to upskill and acquire skills that complement automation.
Companies would have to invest time and effort in building the workforce of the future by retraining their employees, by redeploying their employees to tasks where they can use their skills in a better way, by redesigning work processes, and of course by hiring new talent. This is absolutely essential, for whether you like it or not, automation is here to stay.
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