LOW-COST LABOR VS AUTOMATION
Automation has become a buzzword in today’s world as increasingly, industries are moving towards it. With the development in the field of science and technology, machines and robots, which are far more superior than human beings, are being developed to increase productivity in industries. Customer nowadays demands fast products with a good deal of variety which has made the industries even more competitive and to stay at the top of the edge, many of the companies have chosen automation over low-cost workers. Automation has helped companies in increasing productivity, reducing labour cost, lessening production time, lowering human errors and much more. The presence of automation can be seen in manufacturing industries, healthcare industries, service sector and where not? With the rapidly increasing competition, automation is bound to grow in the future.
However, this growth is not without any consequence. For a long time after the industrial revolution, most of the jobs were performed by low-wage workers and many developing countries were achieving rapid growth. Industrialization helped in narrowing the difference between rich and poor countries’ wealth levels. By the early 2000s, developing countries were achieving high growth rates, but now due to automation, this model has been eroded. What is more concerning is that automation has been taking out more low-skilled jobs which are mostly taken by low-wage workers and poor citizens. This is further promoting inequality among rich and poor. Fear is that this will rapidly accelerate in coming years. According to a study by Ball State University, around 5 million factory jobs in the U.S alone have evaporated since 2000 and about 88% were lost to automation. Furthermore, a recent report by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) estimated that 38% of jobs in the U.S have a substantial risk of being wiped out by automation by 2030.
Cheap labour is not as important anymore as it used to be because machine and Robots have fetched jobs from workers as they are more productive, fast and can perform the repetitive and monotonous task efficiently and without any error and fatigue. For example, in most of the automobiles making companies, robots are used in assembly lines which can easily replace three to four workers. Despite having multiple advantages, the extent of automation in the industries should not be such that it creates a negative impact on the society. For many developing countries like India, a large part of the population is less skilled therefore they rely on these low-wage jobs to earn their livelihood. It becomes extremely challenging for them to obtain a job above their skill level if their jobs are fetched from them.
Although automation is beneficial for industries, what is important here is to analyze the impact of automation on the lives of workers and the overall economy. If people are not able to earn their
livelihood, who will be able enough to buy these “Robot made products” which might lead to economic slowdown. Therefore, one solution to such complexity could be achieved by employing automation when there is an utmost necessity, for example in complex processes, so that a balance is maintained between automation and human workers.