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Educational systems must adjust to cope with robots

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin


The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) is calling for educational systems to adjust, enabling economies to cope as robots drive demand for skilled workers.

The IFR reckons that  by 2020, an operational stock of almost four million industrial robots are expected to be working in factories worldwide. The Federation believes that these robots will play a vital role in automating production to speed up the post-Corona economy. 

And, it argued in a recent statement, education and training are urgently needed for the automated economy of the future.

“Governments and companies around the globe now need to focus on providing the right skills necessary to work with robots and intelligent automation systems,” said Milton Guerry, President of the Federation. “This is important to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that these technologies offer. The post-Corona recovery will further accelerate the deployment of robotics. Policies and strategies are important to help workforces make the transition to a more automated economy.”

Saadia Zahidi, in her role as Head of Education, Gender and Employment Initiatives at the World Economic Forum, added: “Very few countries are taking the bull by the horns when it comes to adapting education systems for the age of automation. Those that are, have long had a clear focus on human capital development. Countries in northern Europe, as well as Singapore are probably running some of the most useful experiments for the future world of work.”

According to the “automation readiness index” published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), only four countries have already established mature education policies to deal with the challenges of an automated economy. South Korea is the category leader, followed by Estonia, Singapore and Germany. Countries like Japan, the US and France are developed and China was ranked as emerging. The EIU summed up the order of the day for governments: more study, multi-stakeholder dialogue and international knowledge sharing.


Well said the IFR, Goverments need to do more to prepare people for automation. 

But will this message, like so many others about getting people ready for automation, fall on deaf ears? The kicker in the recent statement from the Federation is that just four countries have established mature education policies to deal with the challenges of an automated economy: South Korea, Estonia, Singapore and Germany. 

Countries like Japan, the US and France are doing something, and China is getting round to it.

This is woefully inadequate, especially in Europe, where there are long-developed education systems that could easily be used to train people for automation. 

So what's the problem, are Governments looking the other way when automation is discussed? Will this prove to be a complete travesty from Governments who must be blind to what is happening with working practices?

And what can we do to turn the ship around - are industry assications, trade bodies and unions doing their bit to open the eyes of Governments who have long been asleep at the wheel when it comes to robots and automation?

But no matter how much is said, don't expect much change over the short term, Goverments have in Covid-19 the perfect excuse to have left things laspe and fall behind.

The sad conclusion has to be, the world is not yet ready for automation. 

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High demand for “Robotics skills” in post-Corona recovery

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