Corporate Leaders Say Robotics Offers Job Opportunities For Young People

American business leaders have identified robotics as a major source of jobs for the nation’s youth with many openings currently unfilled.

In a poll of 200 senior corporate executives on what industrial sectors they thought the most jobs would be created for our nation’s youth during the rest of the decade 81% mentioned robotics as a top five area.

The poll was conducted for the National Robotics Education Foundation (NREF) by Information Strategies, Inc. (ISI) in April-July, 2015.

The challenge the respondents expressed is how to awaken interest and train students to these evolving worker needs and opportunities available.

Robotics are entering everyday life in many different areas. Amazon is exploring delivering by drones, in which in essence are robots. Most distribution centers for America’s retail and wholesale markets utilize robots to pick-and-pack shipments. Google just announced it will report progress on its attempt to create a self-deriving car. Toys are available to fly, drive, and maneuver vehicles on land, sea, and air.

According to numerous other studies, the robotics industry is in a very expansive mode today, showing no signs of deceleration.  Companies of all sizes are sprouting up all over the country due to vast opportunity and demand within the industry. They will need new workers with some robotic knowledge, skills.

Today, there are an estimated 150+ thousand unfilled positions in robotics related workplaces, according to numerous industry surveys. These positions often pay higher than average salaries for even the most basic service openings, according to another survey by ISI for NREF.

By 2020 job openings are expected to grow to almost 500 thousand positions.

In their comments, executives polled said all of these areas and many more will require individuals who can design, build and maintain these machines.

Thomas Atwood, NREF’s Executive Director commissioned the study after taking initial soundings and speaking to industry executives. “These openings are not limited to big companies. The industry is spawning smaller entities as well. Most jobs in America are generated by small companies and they are in the forefront of this revolution,” he said.

Atwood cited an article in The Robot Report which reported that a few big firms make the basic industrial robot arms, but thousands of independent global consultants, distributors, integrators and engineers add value through software and add-on devices. There are also many applications being developed in the fields of scientific research and healthcare.

“Not only has the robotics industry opened platforms for service providers, but it has also increased the demand for the service robot,” he added.

Atwood also points out:

·         According to a 2013 article found in Logistics Management, global demand for robots was forecast to increase nearly 11% per year through 2016.

·         Five countries—the US, Japan, Germany, China, and South Korea—combined to account for 68 percent of the $12.3 billion global robot market in 2011 and will continue to dominate the overall market through the next decade.

·         Furthermore, the robust outlook for service robot demand is leading an increasing number of companies to enter the market, especially in the medical and consumer product sectors, and this should increase competition and further lower costs.

·         Like service robots, industrial robots are used for a variety of functions, including handling, welding, assembly and disassembly, cleanroom operations, dispensing, and processing. However, handling and welding operations dominate.

According to an article found in The Wall Street Journal,a new generation of highly complex industrial robots for manufacturing in operation worldwide hit well over 1,200 in 2014 and will hit just under 2,000 by 2017.

“Not only are designers and builders needed for this new generation but highly trained service personnel are needed,” Atwood concluded.

According to JoAnn M. Laing, NREF’s chairperson, “there are other reasons for adding robotics education tools into regular class lessons.”

“Building robotics education tools into school curriculums can encourage boys and girls to better understand other disciplines,” she adds.

“For instance, in demonstration classes, utilizing building and driving robotic devices can help students understand mathematics, engineering, and scientific principles,” she continues.

“Equally as important, as numerous programs have demonstrated, utilizing robotics into teaching at risk children reduces dropout rates by almost 80 percent,” she said. “Today, there are many schools offering after-hours programs revolving around robotic competitions sponsored by such organizations as FIRST and Vex.”

“One need only go to one of these competition to see the enthusiasm and commitment from these young people to see the value of adding competitions.  The variety of participants as demonstrated by their personal appearance and backgrounds demonstrates the value robotics in educational experiences has for the nation’s youth,” added Atwood, NREF’s Executive Director.

Atwood, founding editor of Robots magazine, also said, “Interestingly, fun projects like this attract both boys and girls up to about age twelve. Statistics suggest girls seem to lose interest at that age. By adding robotics into classroom instruction may encourage them to pursue work in that field when they finish their education.”

Laing argues: “Great strides are being taken amongst educators to add robotics curriculum. However, the time to educate our current generation is fleeing. Robotics can prepare our children to not only serve this sector but others as well.”