A retiring baby boomer generation coupled with long-term demographic migration patterns are causing a talent scarcity over much of the country and developed world. When the unemployment rate falls to near all-time lows, it only further exacerbates the problem. Companies are increasingly being driven to seek alternatives to sustain growth and productivity, and automation is rapidly filling the void left behind by traditional workforce. Nearly 60 percent of companies today with more than $1 billion in revenue have at least pilot programs underway using robotic automation, according to research from McKinsey & Company.

A recent report by the University of Oxford and Citigroup shows that 85% of jobs are at risk of automation. The jobs that will be least susceptible to automation will be those that rely on creativity, management, entrepreneurship and problem solving. The jobs most susceptible will be those that are heavy in manual labor or involve predictable routine logic, including retail occupations, customer service roles, warehousing and manufacturing jobs. In the short-term, we’ve seen that automation has actually been enhancing and increasing the productivity of workers in these types of occupations. In its early stages, the technology has been efficient at automating the most menial tasks involved in these jobs, such as data entry, allowing for the workers to shift their focus to higher value work.

Case in point: According to a 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report, 76% of surveyed recruiters and hiring managers believe that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will have at least a “somewhat significant” impact on how they do recruiting; only 14% said they were concerned that automation and AI might take away their jobs. As it stands now, automation is more likely to change the work that is being done in a job than to destroy the actual job itself. A McKinsey Global Institute report reinforces this, stating that “more occupations will change than will be lost as machines affect portions of occupations and people increasingly work alongside them.”

So, what does this all mean? Jobs now and in the future will increasingly leverage automation. It will be critical for communities to ensure their workforce development is forward-thinking and that the education intuitions in the region are outputting the skills needed to capitalize on this technology. At the same time, communities must also place greater emphasis on developing those skills in their workforce that will survive automation, such as critical thinking and creativity. Communities that successfully position themselves now will reap outsized benefits of automation in the future.

At Ady Advantage, we understand the importance of staying ahead of economic development trends like automation and artificial intelligence and helping our clients skate to where the puck will be. Contact us to find out how we can help your community best prepare for the talent of the future.