For decades we have been hearing the futuristic warning from people with ties to business: Robots are going to take most of our jobs! While we are far from that happening, a new report suggests at least some jobs are closer to that reality than we think—and Black and Latino workers are the most at-risk to be replaced as automation processes are sped up by the pandemic.
The Hamilton Project released a report on automation, why it’s on the rise, and who is most affected. You don’t have to go very far to see the rise of automation in y0ur daily life. Just think of the last time you went to Target or the grocery store—can you say “self check-out?” Those checkout machines often mean one less store associate, which cuts costs for companies looking to trim down salary and insurance for employees. Such factors make it clear why automation is on the rise.
Now, the who. The same report went on to rank the jobs that are most likely to be affected by automation. The top five are as follows: cashiers, retail salespersons, secretaries/administrative assistants, labors/material movers, and construction laborers. Not surprisingly, all of these jobs have a high percentage of Latino and Black workers, making them most vulnerable to the consequences of automation.
Automation has become popular with the advancement of technology. Whether it was the operator who connected phone calls in the early part of the century, or the mailman who now sees parcels getting delivered by drone, it’s clear tech is clearing the way for more tasks to be taken over. Recently, the coronavirus has forced companies to rapidly reconfigure workflows to adhere to social distancing and remote working. Reductions in offices that might not be needed means limiting the people who support them, according to the report.
The report urges the U.S. to learn from other countries that have implemented workforce training programs to provide workers whose jobs might be threatened with upskill training. Countries such as Denmark and Singapore are just some examples of where such programs have been successful, enabling workers to keep up with evolving demands without leaving them without options.