AI to Assist in US Labour Shortage
July 12, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

The effects of the pandemic on the global economy have hit harder and in some unexpected ways. The US for instance has been facing an acute labour shortage.

The irony here is that millions are unemployed yet the companies complain about labour shortage. This shortage is mainly because the American workforce is underpaid and undervalued compounded with issues such as child care, early retirements and career changes. The arousing part is that, not only the underpaid are stepping down but also those in white-colour jobs are calling it quits.

Employee satisfaction and wage problems are issues that require a long-term solution. In the manufacturing industry, labour shortage is an all-time hindrance. This is mainly because young people looking for work deem manufacturing industries as low paying and are low tech, therefore, deterring them from settling in those jobs.

This is also the case in the retail industry, as burdensome service tasks have resulted in many employees leaving their jobs, with those staying only doing so because of the benefits that come along. Meanwhile they remain physically overwhelmed and very unhappy.

The labour shortage does however have a silver lining, as it has prompted the adoption of AI in the manufacturing and retail industries to deal with the volatility in the supply chain. Recent advances in AI have transformed technology from a distant idea to reality.

With robotics and visual agents coming into action, many people are worried about losing their jobs. AI should therefore take jobs that no one likes, making it easier for the respective companies.

Serious labour shortage is, therefore, a big break for AI as it should be adopted very soon. This is mainly because AI can relieve labourers of more monotonous and heavy work. Moreover, since conversational AI can interact in a human-like, it can replace people in the heavy tasks. AI robotics mimic the human brain, leading to improved customer service therefore satisfaction.  In AI, robotics have been used in a wide range of fields to help in quality inspection and supply chain management. Also, they help in reducing the cost as they can predict breakdowns. AI has improved the efficiency of workers by freeing them from repetitive and low skilled work, hence ensuring business continuity.

AI is also able to get more skilled with time and this has helped a lot in allowing quality as an output in any work. AI can also make certain jobs more attractive and interesting, which will then lead to company improvement and attracting higher expertise and subject matter talent. This new labour force will enjoy their work as it is even easier to handle and will result in the company development. The use of virtual agents has enabled the provision of automated services as they help handle routine customer queries and simple problems. They can also be used to guide or direct employees through tasks.

However, hesitation resulting from misconceptions about AI in the workplace has led to little implementation and adoption of AI in various fields in companies. These myths and inaccuracies about AI include: machines are objective, AI will kill jobs, super-intelligent machines will surpass humans and AI is the same as machine learning. In order to make an informed decision about AI, we should first able to learn about it and appreciate the fact that it will replace some jobs and transform others. AI is therefore bound to become part of our lives since it comes with many tangible and monetary benefits we should all be ready to embrace.      

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