Can labour shortages be replaced with automation?

Over the past few years, there have been incredible leaps forward in terms of technology, robotics and the potential for constructed and engineered machinery which looks closer to reflecting the abilities of humans than ever before.

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While this is largely welcomed by most industries – enabling greater precision, efficiency and economy compared with labour undertaken by people – it also makes a number of industry employees feel slightly insecure. There’s something unsettling about imagining a future where robots may replace even the most skilled and proficient technicians, staffing industries through machine, not man.

What Does Modernity Look Like for Robotics?

Even a decade ago, it seemed incomprehensible that technical engineers would be able to create robots which resemble humans so closely that it can be difficult to determine the difference. For example, reasoning and communication skills in robotics have surged ahead to the extent that machines may now undertake near-perfect dialogue, while industries such as automotive construction, engineering and medicine are all benefiting from the heightened accuracy, robotic repetition and removal of human error which robotics provide.

Considering the Use of Automation for Broader Socio-economic Issues

Robotics and automation may have an even wider benefit than initially considered, particularly as the expenditure to invest in technology drops, commensurate with increased investment from industry.

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As a result, against a backdrop of skills and labour shortages, it is possible that the advanced technology, combined with lowered manufacturing costs, may be able to address issues around recruiting for key roles, by replacing people with automation. For example, healthcare firms advocate assistive technology such as falls sensors to reduce the need for all-night care. Kitchen gadgets, including commercial glass washers such as those available from, as well as robot vacuum cleaners and others may enhance output, while addressing labour shortage for manual roles. We have evolved automation well beyond simple machines like remote-controlled cars, lawn mowers or cleaners. We only have to look to the sky to see the prevalence of drones recording footage which may replace human recording to see the rapid rise of technology in the quest to improve efficiency and combat labour shortages or expense.

While the exact breadth of resolution which automation may provide remains unclear, there’s no doubt that the benefits are out there and could have a huge impact upon our economy in future.


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