The Role Of Automation In The Aging Workforce

The Administration on Aging estimates the largest percentage point increase in the population over 60, reports VB. The population segment aged 60 and up will grow to 22.2 % in 2020. Factors driving this include greater longevity and Baby Boomers, an outsized demographic. What does this aging population mean for labor and employment?

A large, youthful labor pool has been a feature of the American working landscape for some time. There is also a significant focus on retaining more jobs, and incentivizing companies to expand their labor force. Despite this, there is still a deficit when it comes to drawing the next generation of talent.

A Manpower report observed that automation will, counterintuitively, drive growth in the workforce, but among the different skill sets from those which would have been replaced. Also, research by Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that an aging population has not been connected with lower GDP per capita since the 1990s and 2000s, when the negative effects of aging in a digital world were a point of concern.

A Look Into the Future

The scope of the impact of robotics on the labor force is difficult to calculate. Evidence suggests that a time is coming in which this technology rules the economy, spawning a myriad of new innovations, increasing productivity and changing how society operates.

Progress in the IT sector indicates that software bots could remove repetitive, mindless tasks from the work experience. However, the understanding of how to utilize these bots best will continuously evolve.

Many observers are concerned about a shrinking effect on the labor force due to the replacement of people with machines, but Forresters foresees a future of automation creates jobs to offset any it eliminates.

Another relevant factor is declining birthrates, which will results in a shrink in the working-age population. The workforce will need to become more productive and improve more quickly to sustain today’s GDP. As a matter of fact, even if productivity improved at the same rate it has through the past 50 years, (when the internet and computers became mainstream) this still would not be enough to sustain the current GDP.  Automation technology, according to McKinsey analysis, could bring up global productivity as much as  0.8 percent to 1.4 percent annually, as long as humans continue working too.

A Coming Revolution

For a model of the impact of an aging workforce, consider Japan, an aging society facing challenges of availability, skill development, and shortages of talent. Japanese businesses are using automation and robotic technology to help seniors keep working and contributing to the economy longer. Because the country cannot solve its birthrate problems overnight, but it could help sustain the economy’s momentum.