Tech trouble: Robots vs Workers – Why threat of mass unemployment has to be mitigated

Published: January 18, 2018 1:47 AM

Their interface with humans has been continuously evolving, enabling them to make inroads to varied manufacturing fields, and form an important constituent of the whole automation portfolio, helping India meet the manufacturing needs of tomorrow.

Amongst all automation solutions, robots are one of the most dynamic examples personifying automation based on exchange of communication with human beings.

Amongst all automation solutions, robots are one of the most dynamic examples personifying automation based on exchange of communication with human beings. Their interface with humans has been continuously evolving, enabling them to make inroads to varied manufacturing fields, and form an important constituent of the whole automation portfolio, helping India meet the manufacturing needs of tomorrow. As the world moves towards making exceptional solutions, automation will act as a boon to stay ahead of the innovation curve and sustain economic development. However, as we move on this path of increasing automation and faster deployment of robots, there’ll be challenges that we must prepare for. If the threat of mass unemployment has to be mitigated, we have to expedite our efforts to counter the challenges of skills displacement. A deeper look at the current National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 reveals that the government has been considering some novel steps to realise their vision of creating not only skilled job seekers but also to convert them into job creators with speed, standard (quality) and sustainability. Some of these include using hard and soft infrastructure which is underutilised.

Another distinctive initiative is the utility of the wide railway network (65,000 km with over 8,000 stations). A large proportion of it has adequate infrastructure facilities, electricity supply and an extensive optical fibre cable (OFC) network. The possibility of leveraging this to deliver short-term skilling courses and promoting awareness is on the cards. However, ultimately skill development is the shared responsibility of all—the government, corporate sector, community based organisations, academia, influencers and experienced individuals, etc. As a country, we have a formidable challenge ahead. Only 4.69% of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68% in UK, 75% in Germany, 52% in USA, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.

Countries like Germany and UK aim to create skilled, thoughtful, self-reliant employees who can improvise when things go wrong with machines or make them better. If there is one thing that we can learn from history, it is that technology is like a genie out of the bottle and can’t be reversed. Once created, it gathers a momentum of its own. If we are prepared, we can use this momentum to our advantage and uplift the masses from poverty. But if we are not nimble enough, we could just get steamrolled by it and lose out on a great opportunity.

Sameer Gandhi
The writer is MD, OMRON Automation India

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