Contrary to popular speculation that robots could take British jobs, new data exclusively shared with The Manufacturer has revealed that the majority of industry professionals (63.3%) have never witnessed job losses as a result of the introduction of robots or automated processes.
Furthermore, more than a third (36.7%) stated that robots have often resulted in job creation within their place of work.
The research took into account more than 1,000 manufacturing professionals and was conducted by The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF), a non-profit body for ergonomists and human factors practitioners, in collaboration with CV-Library, a leading independent job site.
The study sought to ascertain the true perception and reality of automation and robots among those who experience it first-hand.
Key findings revealed that almost three-quarters of professionals (72.6%) feel society is scare-mongered into believing robotics and automation are a negative progression. In addition:
- Nearly four in five manufacturers (78.9%) feel more should be done to promote the benefits of automation and robotics in the workplace.
- Almost half of industry professionals (45.8%) claim the business they work for do not communicate the benefits of automation to staff, particularly to those on the frontline of production.
- Unsurprisingly therefore, more than half of industry professionals (52%) admit that there is resistance from employees when implementing new automated processes.
Furthermore, when asked who was responsible for promoting the benefits, respondents pointed the finger towards employers (80%) and technology suppliers (67.8%).
Commenting on the results, Steve Barraclough, CEO of the CIEHF, said: “Robots and automation are regularly given a bad name. However, while automation might remove some mundane and repetitive jobs, it also makes a significant contribution to ‘upskilling’ employees, which is often overlooked.
“Automation requires programmers and maintainers in areas where they may not have been previously necessary. This presents a real opportunity to businesses and manufacturers that are embracing change. It’s essential to keep people at the heart of new technology and to ‘on-board’ staff at the earliest opportunity. Human factors plays a significant role in the on-boarding process and is essential to ensuring employees are not resistant to change.”
Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, concludes: “These latest findings are good news for the UK’s labour market. Skills shortages are an ongoing concern across a number of industries, so it’s refreshing to hear that new technologies and processes in the workplace can help to close this gap and support businesses in upskilling their workforce.”