Report

AI, Robotics and Automation Technologies – The impact on professions and society and the role of HR and L&D professionals

What is the impact of AI, robotics, and automation technologies on relevant professions and society?

There are potentially significant social impacts related to the increasing work-related use of AI, advanced robots and cognitive computing – one of which is on employment levels. However, opinion is divided on this topic, ranging from those who predict large-scale job losses through the automation of non-routine work, to other perspectives which suggest that large-scale job losses are unlikely, and that there might in fact be a net increase in employment. What cannot be disputed, however, is that technology will have some degree of impact on jobs.

Second, as the presence of these technologies within organisations increases, there is a bigger question around skills – as there will be an increased need for people, both workers and consumers, who are able to work and interact with these technologies. For instance, there are various reports which suggest that the lack of in-house AI skills is holding back organisations from implementing the technology within their workplace.

The need for skilled individuals who can work with innovative technologies is outstripping supply. A recent report by the Government on how the artificial intelligence industry in the UK can be developed makes a series of recommendations on how this skills gap can be addressed – from developing
more industry-funded courses in AI to an international AI fellowship programme for the UK. A similar set of policy recommendations would be useful to consider the possible skills implications of robotics and automation.

What is the role of HR and L&D professionals in this debate?

As organisations evolve and the implementation of emerging technologies gains pace, HR professionals have a critical role in ensuring that this change delivers positive outcomes for their people. But to be a critical stakeholder in this transformation, HR professionals need to have the knowledge and insights to enable their organisations to make informed decisions. The challenge for HR professionals is to recognise the changing expectations of businesses and employees, and ensure that the utilisation of technologies is for the benefit of both.
HR and L&D professionals also have an important role in identifying
and addressing the skills gap, and ensuring that their organisations have the ‘in-house’ talent pool that can work with emerging technologies. They need to proactively engage with critical internal (such as business leaders) and external stakeholders (such as policy-makers) to ensure that policy recommendations from the Government resonate with the needs of their organisation. They should be open to learning from organisations that have made some progress in this area and develop learning strategies that are agile and adaptable to the changing nature of work.

HR professionals must shape a future of work that is human. While most of the narrative in the media seems dystopian – focusing on the idea that technology will leave human beings with no jobs – our literature review shows that in the healthcare and transportation sectors, technology is allowing for some degree of role expansion by augmenting jobs that people are already doing. Therefore, it is incumbent upon HR professionals to put the emphasis back on people and create work environments where technology and people can co-exist – with technology complementing or augmenting the work people are already doing and making jobs more meaningful.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Impact of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation technologies on work

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