It’s 2018, the Age of the Computer. It’s been the Age of the Computer since the 80s, with the vast adoption of home computers that came with massive breakthroughs in technology that continue to this day. The typewriter is scarcely seen nowadays, despite it being the progenitor of the QWERTY keyboard layout we see on most computer keyboards today. It’s not just the office that has saw massive changes in the last 40 years: manufacturing, agriculture, government services and many other fields have seen technology and automation prompt company change.
However, for many employees the effects of automation are worrying. Many organisations, both private and public, are switching to automated services, and squeezing many people out of the jobs they’ve held for years, perhaps even decades. Look at a modern car factory in the UK and you won’t see many people there, and most of them are working on the systems that control the automated production lines. Certainly a far cry from the 70s, when the British car manufacturer British Leyland hired over 250,000 people alone.
Certainly, people working in fields that can be dangerous like mining and manufacturing will appreciate the fact that a robot is going to take the brunt of an accident, but automation has historically driven people out of work. The automation of cotton mills during the Industrial Revolution drove many people to become Luddites, who destroyed textile production machinery to protest the loss of their livelihood. Today, the term embodies resentment of new technology.
However, with the loss of jobs comes the increase in production and reduction of costs, which means many companies continue to adopt these practices. Is it fair to say that automation is driving people out of work, or does it simply mean that the old workforce needs to be taught new tricks?
It should be noted that the vast majority of jobs, no matter how automated, still require a human at the controls. While opportunities for high-intensity and risky jobs will still exist, primarily in countries that can’t afford these expensive systems, automation is replacing them. For many older members of the workforce, it should mean a change in how they do their job, and not being made redundant. Computer literacy can be a major issue for older generations, so work training is vital to ensure that company change comes naturally.
At the Change Consultancy, we’re excited about taking new technology, methods and workplace philosophy to reinvigorate companies and get them running at maximum efficiency in an age where company change is fast and confusing.