From warehouse automation, to predictive data-driven analytics, to self-driving cars - it’s clear that artificial intelligence (AI) has already had a huge, and sometimes scary, impact on the industry. Over the last few years, we’ve watched the logistics, manufacturing and warehousing sectors undergo a massive transformation as more businesses have begun integrating AI.
In a recent study, it was estimated that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs will be replaced by robots by 2030. Other industries that are likely to take the hit include IT, finance and banking, media and marketing, healthcare and agriculture. The number of jobs lost to AI is set to grow year on year. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
The rise of AI and automation is opening up a myriad of job opportunities. It also presents a responsibility to society, to upskill, reskill and empower the current and future generation of workers. With all this change comes the big question: ‘how will AI affect my business or job?’
Robots and AI systems are already being used for repetitive, monotonous or physically challenging tasks. Amazon is one of the leaders in utilising AI-driven robots to streamline order picking and packing (and when applied in a space such as their gigantic warehouses, it’s easy to see how this is reducing time and errors in picking).
Other big brands are following suit, including DHL (who use robots to assist warehouse workers with efficiently packing orders), X-frontier (whose robots have halved the amount of manpower on their warehouse floor and increased efficiency), and Ocado (whose robots collect and deliver grocery items). As AI becomes more advanced, it's expected that more complex tasks, like quality control and maintenance, could also be automated.
However, there are experts who believe that AI is not the threat. Richard Baldwin, a professor and expert in economics, recently stated at the 2023 Growth Summit:
"AI is essentially wisdom in a can. It's giving more power to all workers, but especially those average workers."
What this essentially means is that, as long as you know how to use it, AI has the potential to help average workers do their jobs better.
A great example to echo this sentiment is the DHL Locus robot that has been able to increase the efficiency of warehouse orders from 70 units an hour, to 180 units an hour. However, these are basic robots, and they require human intelligence to run the system.
With all that said, there is still the very real possibility of AI making millions of jobs redundant regardless of whether these jobs require human intelligence or not.
With many in the logistics, manufacturing and warehousing industries expecting job losses due to AI, it’s important to stay ahead of the game and prepare for a future of AI-run industries. This means that employers, need to actively be upskilling their workers now.
This kind of upskilling required will differ from sector to sector, and will include all employees, even down to the factory floor. For some, this could mean providing training on how to work alongside AI and robots. For others, it could involve completely retraining workers for new roles. There's also a growing need for digital literacy and data skills across all sectors, so any training that improves these skills is likely to be beneficial.
Additionally, companies can seek to partner with companies, like MTC Australia, to create courses and programs tailored to the skills of their workers needed in the age of AI. This way, they can ensure that future employees are well-prepared for the changing job market.
We foresee a huge opportunity for upskilling in the following areas:
The first step is ensuring that your employees have a solid foundation in digital literacy. This includes understanding how to use basic computer applications, navigating the internet, and understanding online security.
AI and automation generate vast amounts of data that can be used to improve operations. Training your employees on how to interpret and use this data can be incredibly valuable.
Your employees should have a basic understanding of AI and robotics, how they work, and their applications in the workplace. This knowledge can help alleviate fears and misunderstandings about the technology.
As more physical tasks get automated, there will be an increasing demand for people who can maintain and repair these systems. Training courses in these areas can provide valuable skills for the future.
While this might not be suitable for everyone, providing interested employees with training in AI programming can be a great way to future-proof their careers.
AI can mimic human emotional intelligence. However, humans are unpredictable and emotions are difficult to artificially mimic. So, soft skills like communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence will become more important in the AI-driven workplace.
With increased use of AI and digital systems, the threat of cyber attacks also rises. Training in cybersecurity can help protect the company's digital assets and provide a valuable skill for employees. While there will be programs on the market to omit this, using and implementing them will require human intelligence (HI).
Encourage employees to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and curiosity. The specific skills needed will change over time, but a willingness to learn and adapt will always be valuable.
By upskilling and reskilling in these areas, employees in the logistics and warehousing industries can continue to provide value in the evolving AI-driven workplace.
AI comes with incredible benefits of transformation, speed and agility. It also comes with a massive responsibility as we begin to adapt our workforce across the business and education sector in order to help upskill the next and current generation of workers.
By investing in Human Intelligence (HI), education, and training, we can collectively encourage the development of new skills, and stay up-to-date with the latest technological developments. Employers must help ensure that their employees are equipped to navigate the changing landscape of the industry.
If you’re experiencing increased pressure to improve your workforce, or looking for candidates to help accelerate your business growth, MTC Recruitment can help. Our team of specialised experts will help you find the right person at the right time.