Education key to reap benefits of robotics

Education and training systems must be adapted to enable current and future workers to reap the full benefits of robotics, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

The US automotive industry installed 17,500 robots in 2016, with the number of jobs in the sector rising by 260,600 during the same period – image courtesy of IFR.
The US automotive industry installed 17,500 robots in 2016, with the number of jobs in the sector rising by 260,600 during the same period – image courtesy of IFR.

The task of adapting current training systems falls to both public and private sector companies, and requires strong collaboration between the two, said the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

Amazon’s director of worldwide engineering advanced technologies, Jon Battles explained: “We have about 8 million baby boomers exiting the workforce over the next five to 10 years. It turns out the baby boomers are the most industrial trained part of the US workforce.

“We are heading towards a gap and I hope we all internalise the importance of inspiring this young generation coming up, retraining the people we have, giving them a great vision for careers in the future and following through on that.”

Automation leads to job growth

According to the latest IFR findings, the US automotive industry has installed a record of approximately 17,500 industrial robots in 2016. In the past seven years, the operational stock increased by about 52,000 unit between 2010-2016. During the same period, the number of jobs in the US automotive sector rose by 260,600, per analysis by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Speaking at the World Robotics IFR CEO Roundtable in Chicago in March, IFR president, Joe Gemma explained: “The main driving force of this growth is the ongoing trend to automate production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of American industry globally, to keep manufacturing at home, and in some cases, bring back manufacturing that had previously been outsourced to other countries.”

Amazon has recently announced the hiring of 100,000 new full-time and full benefit workers across its operations in the United States. This significant recruitment drive reportedly follows the company’s installation of 45,000 Amazon robotic systems in its fulfilment centres.