Robots vs. Humans: Can We Coexist?

If you were part of the select group of people that thought machines were slated to take over the entire workforce, think again! New research finds that despite automation taking over certain roles, humans are still needed to help operate these new technologies.


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ManpowerGroup’s latest research report, Humans Wanted: Robots Need You, found that more employers than ever (87%) plan to increase or maintain headcount as a result of automation for the third consecutive year.  ManpowerGroup surveyed 19,000 employers in 44 countries on the impact of automation on job growth in the next 2 years.

Supply vs. Demand

The research finds that companies that are focusing on digitizing are growing and that growth is producing more unique kinds of jobs. Organizations that are already automating tasks and progressing their digital transformation are most confident of increasing headcount.
However, global talent shortages are at a 12-year high and new skills are appearing as fast as others disappear. With that in mind, more companies are planning to build talent than ever before, and this trend shows no sign of slowing. ManpowerGroup reports that 84% of employers plan to upskill their workforce by 2020.

We Can Coexist

“The focus on robots eliminating jobs is distracting us from the real issue,” says Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup Chairman and CEO. “More and more robots are being added to the workforce, but humans are too. Tech is here to stay and it’s our responsibility as leaders to become Chief Learning Officers and work out how we integrate humans with machines. Learning today cannot be done as it was in the past.”
Prising adds that at ManpowerGroup, they’re focusing on reskilling people from declining industries—such as textiles—for jobs in high growth industries including cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and autonomous driving. Prising says that for companies looking to reskill their current workforce using artificial intelligence (AI), the focus should be on practical steps to upskill people at a speed and at a scale the workers are comfortable with. Prising also says, “[O]rganizations and individuals really can befriend the machines.”

Additional Key Findings

The Humans Wanted report also found that demand for IT skills is growing significantly and with speed; 16% of companies expect to increase headcount in IT, five times more than those expecting a decrease.
Production and manufacturing employers anticipate the most change in headcount, 25% say they will employ more people in the next year, while 20% say they will employ less. Growth will come in front-line and customer-facing roles too—all requiring human skills such as communication, negotiation, leadership, and adaptability.