20,000,000. According to Oxford Economics, that’s the international number of jobs that’ll be replaced by robots and automation by 2030. Within the United States, researchers at MIT found that during the period between 1990 and 2007, one additional robot added to the workplace displaced three human workers. At the forefront of this particular issue lies blue-collar workers; as they often lack education and specialized skills, employers will begin to rely on robots instead of humans. With such statistics and areas of issue, I find it evident that the replacement of blue-collar jobs by automated robots will become the greatest conflict my generation will face in the upcoming years.
While there is bipartisan support in the U.S. government to help worried workers, the problem is the lack of execution in planning. The issue of automation in the workplace first came to light in the 1960s when President Kennedy spoke passionately on this topic at various speeches. He believed that robots were meant to benefit human life-standards, not replace human jobs. However, with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, the topic over automation too ceased to exist. The following U.S. Presidents would put little to no focus on the topic over automation. For example, in 2018, then-President Trump passed an executive order changing public employment strategies in hopes of opening more jobs to people replaced by automation. Specifically, it aimed to increase education for jobs directly at risk and made federal jobs more accessible to Americans who have lost their jobs. During the 2020 election campaign, President Biden's platform promised billions of dollars to fund training to re-train workers at risk of replacement. While the new president has had little time to act regarding this issue, given the direction of the bills he’s proposed in his first few months, it’s not clear when President Biden will start approaching this issue. Conclusively, in examining the recent two presidents’ policies towards automation, it is clear that they haven't acted enough to have an impact, a pattern that has appeared in just about every president’s policies on automation in the workplace since President Kennedy in the 1960s.
Moreover, the seriousness of this issue is seen when comparing it to climate change, another pressing issue. Both the United Nations and global governments have swiftly acted in order to relieve the impacts of climate change, whether it be through the signing of agreements such as the 2015 Paris Accords, or creating specialized committees to address this issue (United Nations Environmental Programme). While climate change is another problem that has no long-term solution for, there are entities working to address the issue; automation has no such groups. With nations being complacent about working to solve this matter, it seems likely that by the time serious social phenomenons in the workforce starts to show, our generation will not have any mechanisms in place that could serve as tools in resolving the rise of automation in the workplace. Automation has rarely come up during presidential debates, global summits, and U.N. committee sessions, paving the way for the problem of automation to grow.
Regardless of whether one comes from a blue or red state, this is a pressing issue for both parties, especially since jobs in both liberal and conservative areas in America are being lost to automation. As Generation Z slowly enters the workforce, automation is reaching record-high levels of representation in the labor force. Although reports differ in terms of actual percentages of jobs that’ll likely be lost to automation, there is a consensus that humans will not be able to withstand the competitiveness of robots in the workplace. As stated above, because world governments have been slow to react to the rise of automation, I believe that my generation will have to vigorously compete with robots for basic occupations. Unless the government acts swiftly to find a solution regarding the growth of automation, Generation Z will struggle to keep their jobs from robots and other technologies.