Pew Research Center Takes on Automation

The highly-respected Pew Research Center conducted a survey on automation, job training, and the workforce of the future.

“Seriously? You’re asking about the workforce of the future? As if there’s going to be one?” was one of the answers, so it sounds like people are less optimistic about human being’s ability to compete with robots than they used to be.

One reason for the dip in optimism in this survey could be the focus on education.

Rexroth’s approach to the Skills Gap has been bold and aggressive. Rexroth has helped out schools, doubled down on apprenticeships, and opened the factories to kids. Numerous partnerships in higher education and demo models that share Industry 4.0 with current manufacturing workers are also part of the system. And of course Rexroth also offers online self-training  opportunities.

But one company — or a few companies — can’t do it all. The experts surveyed by Pew Research question the capacity for training or re-training workers in the numbers needed.

Some respondents pointed out that community colleges and other higher education facilities have limited capacity — insufficient for training current workers to do jobs that will still be needed in spite of automation. Others pointed out that distance learning systems, often seen as the solution, have serious limitations. For example, it’s very difficult to be sure that the person taking the class is the person who receives the certificate. Retention rates are very low, too, and the quality of instruction is questionable.

Some suggested that there will be new kinds of training — such as the kinds that Rexroth is currently spearheading — but there were just as many experts who saw a different problem entirely.

If we continue on the current path of automation, they said, we just won’t need enough human workers to keep everyone working 40 hours a week. If automation can’t be slowed by government intervention in the form of regulations or taxation, we’ll have to figure out something else for human beings to do. Some suggested three hour work weeks so that more people can be employed… but what employer will be able or willing to pay a living wage for part time work?

Will automation lead to complete social and economic upheaval? While we wait to see what happens, we’re ready to keep your Rexroth electric motion control system in tip-top shape. We offer phone service, field service, emergency replacement units, factory repair, and factory reman. Call 479-422-0390 today.

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