16 May

Technology and the future of jobs

The advance of industrial automation, digitalization and the Industry 4.0 might be frightening, as someone might be induced to relate these trends to the risk of losing its own job. In 2016, some analysts took the stage at World Economic Forum in Davos to announce that robots would replace about 5 million jobs by 2020, as they would be able to manage most of the routine tasks in manufacturing and logistic processes.

A recent study by ZEW, the German Centre for European Economic Research, pictures a completely different reality: new technology-related jobs are more than those displaced by robots. German companies which embraced the Industry 4.0 increased their overall workforce of about 0.2% in the last five years.

The job balance is not astonishing indeed, but the institute estimated it might raise up to 1% in the near future. More than 50% of German manufacturing businesses have completed Industry 4.0 projects, and about 15% are in the planning phase. Smart technologies are mostly used to improve industrial processes and productivity, enable predictive maintenance and better asset management, reduce energy consumption and increase staff safety. Marketing and sales have been transforming too, with many organizations at the forefront of digitalization in these specific fields.

Robots may replace humans for routine tasks, but also for dangerous or unhealthy procedures. Despite the continuous progress, value-added jobs are not threatened by new technologies. Digital innovation is key for companies’ competitiveness and it will contribute to grow their business in the medium-long run, thus potentially creating more jobs. Businesses investing in the Internet of Things, Big Data, cloud computing, industrial automation, robotics or 3D printing are preparing to take flight and enter in a completely new market scenario, paving the way for innovative and more rewarding business models.

As business will be more and more digitally-enabled and managed, software engineers and developers, Big Data analysts, blockchain and cybersecurity experts will be among the most requested jobs – and provide interesting career opportunities for technology talents.

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