Report points to robotics as a major driver of job creation

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A report published in Japan suggests robotics will be a major driver for global job creation over the next five years.

The report is the result of research carried out by Metra Martech entitled Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment and claims that one million industrial robots currently in operation have been directly responsible for the creation of close to three million jobs.

A statement from the International Federation of Robotics asserts that the growth in robot use over the next five years will result in the creation of one million high-quality jobs around the world in industries such as consumer electronics, food, solar and wind power, and advanced battery manufacturing.

“The German and Japanese automotive manufacturers who have invested heavily in automation and robots have maintained a lead in the quality market”

The report highlights that between 2000–08, manufacturing employment increased in nearly every major industrialised country, even as the use of robotics increased sharply. 

This same pattern is now being seen in China, Brazil, and other emerging countries as they increase their use of robotics. 

In Brazil, the number of robots almost quadrupled during the study period with production and employment rising by more than 20 per cent.

The report’s author, Peter Gorle, highlighted three critical areas of growth in robotic deployment: where robots carry out work in areas that would be unsafe for humans; where robots carry out work that would not be economically viable in a high-wage economy; and where robots carry out work that would be impossible for humans.

Odense, Denmark, is cited as a relevant illustration of robots saving jobs in high-wage countries. 

Shipbuilding in Europe has been in steep decline over the last two to four decades, but robots have reportedly been key to efficiency savings at the Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark. 

The company is said to have invested in an autonomous, robotic arc welding system that has yielded big dividends. Odense Steel Shipyard has increased productivity by a factor of six when compared with manual welding, speeded up production time and made quality improvements, while also protecting the jobs of qualified welders.

The report concluded that the growth of high-tech industries such as the electronics and semiconductor sector, and the pharmaceutical sector, was significantly assisted by robots providing the required quality, precision, speed and traceability that cannot be achieved manually.

The report’s authors studied companies with more than 250 employees in sectors including automotive, electronics and plastics. Respondents were drawn from Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Korea and the USA — countries considered representative of the global economy.