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Robots at work: women twice as likely than men to lose their jobs

Robots…we know they can be programmed to make cars, diffuse bombs, assist in operating theatres and, in a lot of 60’s movies, terrorise planet Earth. More recent media attention however is focusing on the future of jobs and wages as robots and other computer assisted technologies take over tasks traditionally performed by humans.

There’s limited Australian information about the rise of the machines to date but research coming out of the U.S. provides food for thought. A 2017 study from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research found each additional robot in the U.S. economy reduces employment by 5.6 workers, and every robot that is added to the workforce per 1000 human workers causes wages to drop by as much as 0.25 to 0.5 per cent.

A recent report from consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) suggested automated bots could take approximately 38% of jobs in the U.S., 30% in the U.K., 35% in Germany and 21% in Japan, with jobs most likely to be taken by robots being include those in the transportation and storage sectors (56%), manufacturing (46%) and retail (44%)

In a Business Insider Australia article, Kate Taylor reports:
“Twice as many women than men are likely to lose their jobs as automation replaces human labour, according to a recent report by the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis (ISEA).
That’s because women are more likely to be employed in roles that can be replaced by robots. For example, 97% of cashiers are expected to lose their jobs in the coming years to automation. As of 2016, 73% of cashiers are women.”

Jon Stone from KPMG believes the future of the workforce may be a blend of human and robot:
“The traditional construct of a workforce is being blown away,” he says. “In terms of a supply and demand problem, the resources you need to meet demand from a business is not just about your ‘human’ resources. Your workforce could be people based, machine based, or increasingly, a hybrid of the two.”

From a HR management perspective, increasing the number of robots at work brings the possibility of staff viewing automation as a threat rather than a support. I for one cannot wait for the first employee grievance or harassment claim against a mechanical colleague!

Google “robots at work” for 80.7 million results or, if you don’t have quite so much time because you fear your boss might replace you with a bot, check out the PwC report at:

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