In 2014, the Associated Press added itself to the list of news organisations that began using robots to write stories.
This year, Boston Dynamics released a factory robot that is a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to stacking boxes.
This is how the hostile takeover begins, people.
If you think we’re immune to the mechanisation of the workforce here in South Africa, you’d be wrong.
BusinessTech has some info on how robotics will affect the workforce in the coming years.
[A report by McKinsey & Company] analysed a range of potential scenarios for the pace at which automation could affect job losses and offset this against the labour demand created by seven catalysts including infrastructure investment and energy transitions and efficiency.
While the gains could be massive, they also imply significant workforce transitions in South Africa.
“Against the 4.5 million potential new jobs created, we estimate that these technologies could displace 3.3 million existing jobs by 2030.
The technology-related ‘gains’ mentioned here refer to the fact that mechanisation could triple South Africa’s productivity growth, more than double growth in per capita income, and add more than a percentage point to its real GDP growth rate over the next decade.
But at what cost?
…the report shows that digitisation and automation will also result in significant displacement of jobs – especially in the manufacturing and retail sectors.
“We expect to see an increase in both the number and the quality of jobs with a net gain of up to 1.2 million jobs across various sectors by 2030,” said Nomfanelo Magwentshu, a partner in McKinsey & Company’s Johannesburg Office.
“These gains are likely to come about as a result of productivity improvements, strategic infrastructure development, and the evolution of technology.
More from McKinsey:
“When estimating job displacement, we looked at jobs at an activity level. Our analysis of work activities indicated that there are few job types that are 100 percent automatable.
“For example, in data-processing roles such as payroll officers and transaction processors, 72 percent of activities are potentially automatable.”
Jobs in these roles will, therefore, not be completely replaced – but they might decline in number as fewer people are required to perform the same roles, the researchers said.
To summarise, manufacturing and retail will be the hardest hit, with job losses significantly outnumbering jobs gained. People who do not have a matric qualification will be left behind, while the demand for graduate qualified individuals will increase.
“We estimate that there will be a demand for an additional 1.7 million employees with higher education by 2030.
“Unless South Africa’s graduate conversion rate improves, much of that demand will go unmet – resulting in a serious skills shortfall across the economy.”
In this sense, it’s good news for companies looking to save on salaries, and bad news for South Africa – a country that suffers from already-high rates on unemployment.
Whoever said tech was neutral, needs to reevaluate that position.
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