The pace of automation in Australia is lagging behind other industrial nations, research has found. Image by EPA PHOTO

Technology

Robots not taking Australian jobs: report

2020-08-13 17:16:01

Fears robots will take workers’ jobs may have been premature, with new research raising concerns about business investment in technology.

The Australia Institute’s Centre For Future Work has released a report suggesting the pace of automation is lagging behind other industrial nations.

The report, called The Robots are NOT coming, found business investment in new machinery to be weaker than at any point in Australia’s post-war history.

“The slowdown and reversal in labour productivity growth strongly refutes the notion that labour is being replaced by machines in any aggregate sense,” author Jim Stanford wrote.

But hopes this may be good news for job security could be misplaced.

“The failure of business investment means that even more jobs will be located in low-productivity, low-tech, low-wage industries – with terrible implications for wages and job quality,” Dr Stanford said.

Business spending on new research and technology has also been falling, with Australia now well behind other industrial countries.

The average amount of machinery and equipment used by the typical Australian worker has fallen six per cent since 2014.

The report blames less automation and innovation on decreasing productivity, which has fallen for three consecutive years – another post-war low.

Economist Dr Stanford, who is the centre’s director, said Australian businesses were not investing enough in new technology.

“Business leaders love to complain that Australia’s productivity problems are due to red tape, taxes, and unions,” he said.

“The evidence is clear that their own failure to invest in new capital and new technology explains the stagnation in productivity. 

“Instead of blaming others for this outcome, business leaders need to look in the mirror.”

The report found YouTube videos and social media memes fuelled fears about robots taking over by showcasing incredible potential in lab settings.