Automation calls for better job training

According to a White House report on artificial intelligence, an estimated 2 to 3 million transportation-related occupations will become automated in the years to come.  Millions of people around the world are in jeopardy of losing their jobs due to the advancement of technology. Workers in these fields will not be the only ones negatively affected.

Automation comes at the harsh cost of hurting the economy and society by producing a much larger net loss of jobs for the average working citizen.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, employs over a million workers in China. However, in 2011, the company introduced Foxbots, automated workers, and installed 10,000 of them.  These robots were created with the purpose of assisting human workers in performing tasks like assembly, spraying and welding at the major iPhone factory.

They each cost an upward of $20,000 to make.

On June 26, 2013, Foxconn’s CEO, Terry Gou, announced during his annual meeting, “We have over one million workers. In the future, we will add one million robotic workers.”

Automation would eventually encourage the company to stop hiring human hands.

In 1900, 41 percent of U.S. citizens had jobs in agricultural fields and that number has since dropped to only 15 percent.

Technological improvements change the nature of work while destroying certain types of jobs. In accordance with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review, the top 10 fastest-growing jobs are computer support workers, computer and network systems analysts, database administrators, desktop publishers, software engineers in computer applications and systems, medical assistants and personal and homecare aids. A majority of these jobs require certain specializations in computers, engineering and technology.

Technology Review’s top 10 most vulnerable jobs are bank tellers, bookkeepers, cashiers, file clerks, payroll clerks, pharmacists, postal clerks, secretaries, stenographers and typists. A sizable fraction of mid to low skill jobs are more than likely to be replaced by computers in the second economy. Forty million citizens of minimal economic value are thus susceptible to being left behind.

This problem calls for better training. Improving the educational system is too small a change and too late a change for those who are already working. Boosting the minimum wage for human workers may create a higher incentive to acquire replacement machines. Giving workers job training to keep them up to date with changing times is the best answer.