When he was Minister of Economy, Emmanuel Macron declared: “The robot is not the enemy of employment.” On the merits, he was right. Initially, the “cobots” (short for collaborative robots) were created in a wizarding perspective. In other words, they are supposed to be infallible super-colleagues dedicated to performing repetitive, boring and tiring tasks for humans. However, it is their perfection that worries and makes us fear that they threaten the survival of our jobs. But is this really the case? Will robots deviate from their original function to ultimately replace humans? Prospective studies multiply and contradict each other, but the answer tends towards a no. And this for six very specific reasons.
The South Korean, Japanese and German examples
The report published in 2012 by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) is clear. The most robotic countries (South Korea, Japan and Germany) are also those with the lowest unemployment rate. Let’s take the example of South Korea. By 2014, the country had 478 industrial robots per 10,000 workers and now has an unemployment rate of 3.8%. In France, there were 84 robots per 10,000 employees at the same time. For an unemployment rate of 9.5% in April 2017.
Robots create more jobs than what they destroy
According to a study conducted by the English firm Metra Martech, robots will change the nature of work and lead to the creation of many new trades in the coming years. The millions of industrial robots currently deployed would already be responsible for the creation of three million jobs. And things will only get better. The development of robotics in the next five years should create one million skilled jobs worldwide.
85% of jobs in 2030 do not exist today
This is the conclusion reached by about twenty experts from the Californian think tank Institute for the Future. This means that a young worker today has five out of six chances to occupy, by 2030, a job that does not exist yet.
No more back pain!
The Boston Consulting Group‘s forecasts may scare off. In February 2015, the firm estimated that by 2025, robots would process 25% of automated work in factories. Be careful, however, not to be mistaken. These are repetitive, tiring and harmful tasks. In France alone, chain work still affects nearly three million employees. If robots are to assume these tasks, humans will then be able to engage in more creative and better paid missions without damaging their health.
They could simply boost the industry
Co-leaders in this field (along with South Korea), Germany and Japan are often cited as examples when it comes to demonstrating the merits of robots. In a report published in 2012 by Fondapol, Robin Rivaton states that “the robotic investments of the German and Japanese automotive industries have maintained their positions in the automotive market and, ultimately, jobs related to this industry. It is a wealth of factories and robotics is indeed a solution to ensure us mastery of the tools of production.” In other words, robotics may well allow sectors that are now moribund to revive. And hence to hire new employees.