Use of robots results in 'meaningful' decline in human labor: BOK

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Use of robots results in 'meaningful' decline in human labor: BOK

Expanded use of robots has resulted in a "meaningful" decline in demand for human labor in the manufacturing industry while replacing mostly "routine" and "repetitive" jobs, a central bank report said Wednesday.
The Bank of Korea's report was based on data related to introduction of robots in industries and the impact on employment from 2010-2019. It analyzed the net effect of the "displacement effect" in which robots replace workers and "productivity effect" where robots create demand for human labor.
"By industry, the manufacturing industry and by type of work, routine jobs experienced a meaningful decline in demand for [human] labor," the report said.
The report noted that employment in auto and tech companies, in particular, were affected more than others due to their heavy reliance on routine and repetitive work that can be easily replaced by robots.
Auto and electronics firms experienced an increase in robot exposure of 190 and 178 robots per thousand workers between 2010 and 2019 in South Korea, the report said. The exposure rate was much higher than 34 for the manufacturing industry.
"This significant increase is due to huge projects aimed at manufacturing batteries for hybrid and electric cars, as well as the rise in production of semiconductors and displays," the report said.
The report also said that it is a "natural" and "irreversible" phenomenon for robots' replacement of human labor to intensify down the road, underlining the need to cushion any side effects from the transition that could have a huge impact on society.
"With robot technology further advancing, such a displacement trend is expected to strengthen," the report said.
"It is necessary to enhance the capability and dexterity of existing workers and recruits so as to improve their productivity through expanded job training, reeducation, streaming of the overall training system," it added.
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