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Could Industry 4.0 bring more jobs, not fewer?

Author: Andy Watson

Published date: 2020/01

Industry 4.0

Could this new industrial revolution bring in more jobs, not fewer? Well, we’ve actually been here before...

​From the mid-1700’s to today, the most dramatic periods of change have been organised into four industrial revolutions. As the first three unfolded, predictions of considerable jobs losses ensued. Now, as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution we’re seeing similar messages but is it all doom and gloom? We don’t think so.

In our region, we’re witnessing many lower-skilled, repetitive jobs being automated particularly in Manufacturing and Engineering. However, in many of the cases where we are seeing these roles reducing, we’re seeing an increase in the number of programming and controls positions along with supervisor and quality control roles. Where machines are replacing humans, those machines still need to be designed, developed, monitored and maintained, by humans.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), around 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of some of their duties and tasks being automated in the future. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that some of my duties are already being automated. But just because I used artificial intelligence to transcribe an interview doesn’t mean I’m going to lose my job.


To simply argue that automation is going to gobble up jobs also ignores the potential for productivity gains. Productivity gains from new technology in one industry has the potential to lower production costs in others, contributing to increased demand and subsequent employment. Higher demand and more production in one industry raises demand for other industries, and on it goes. Generating more profit could also lead to increased wages, which then leads to increased investment or consumption, therefore creating more demand and more employment.

There’s no denying that there is and will continue to be an impact on peoples working lives from technological developments, and not all of them good. But it’s how we as employers and recruitment professionals approach this that can really make a difference. Better planning, advice and training are just a few of the things that we all need to be doing to help people transition into the next revolution.

If you’re worried about how automation will affect your job, our advice is to look into how you can expand your skills – skills that would be difficult for AI or automation to replace fully in the short-term.

If you’d like further guidance on how you could go about this, please get in touch with me on 01284 701302 or email awatson@cooperlomaz.co.uk