CBS Local — Advances in technology have always forced workers to shift with the changing times. In recent years, automation has started to completely replace the labor force in some factories and even your local fast food restaurant. Now, a new report makes the ominous prediction that as many as 800 million people could be out of work in the near future because of the world’s shift towards a robotic labor force.
According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, 400 to 800 million people could lose their jobs to automation or robot replacements by 2030. Of those displaced workers, up to 375 million people will need to learn a brand new skill set and completely switch careers. The prediction also warns that the world’s richest economies will be most affected, with the United States and Germany potentially giving a third of their employees the pink slip.
“You hear people saying there will be a robot apocalypse. People are going to have to be willing to take more steps sideways and diagonally,” lead author Michael Chui said, via Market Watch. McKinsey says low and high-wage earners will likely be spared in the coming transition to automation; with the middle class suffering the most from the changing jobs market.
The researchers tempered their own dire forecast by adding that as technology makes certain jobs extinct, new jobs will be created to meet the world’s changing needs.
“Predictions that robots are going to take our jobs are overstated. There will be enough jobs for everyone in most sectors.” McKinsey’s director Susan Lund said, via USA Today.
While the study suggests that some countries and employers may be tempted to raise wages to keep valued workers, the fight for bigger paychecks has already pushed U.S. companies like CaliBurger to switch to a fully automated kitchen staff.
“Humans will always play a very critical role in the hospitality side of the business,” robot-building company Miso’s CEO David Zito said. “We just don’t know what the new roles will be yet in the industry.”