The Wagga local government area has a higher rate of jobs that are highly vulnerable to machine automation compared with the national average, a new national research has found.
Regional Australia Institute’s research paper Job Vulnerability in Australia found that 27.5pc of jobs in the LGA were highly vulnerable to automation compared with 22pc across the nation.
However, it is 0.6pc lower compared with other ‘regional cities’ – one of four regional categories in the research.
The top three jobs in Wagga considered to be most at risk are salespeople, general clerks and hospitality workers.
Committee 4 Wagga CEO Alan Johnston said that while automation was inevitable, it was not the first time that major changes affected employment.
“People have been adapting since man invented the wheel,” Mr Johnston said.
“Automation is going to happen across all industries, but we hope that means the adaptation needed leads to growth in opportunities with new roles and skills.
Automation is going to happen across all industries, but we hope that means the adaptation needed leads to growth in opportunities with new roles and skills.Alan Johnston, CEO of Committee 4 Wagga
“What we’d like to see is growth across all trades and not just confined to places like Bomen and manufacturing.”
Mr Johnston said the Riverina had a strong mix of industries that automation would find it difficult to affect in the short-to-medium term.
“There’s always going to be jobs where technology will find it hard to replicate,” he said.
Wagga’s ProWay Livestock Equipment, which manufactures livestock-handling facilities and equipment, uses a process that combines both human and machine inputs.
Communications manager Patrick Ryan said that while he thought automation was on the horizon, it would only increase efficiency for jobs.
“In manufacturing, it’s inevitable that technology will improve efficiency in business and make lives easier, but it won’t replace them,” Mr Ryan said.
“ProWay has recently invested in a large scale automation project, which allows us to significantly speed up our drawing and ordering times of complex shearing shed designs.
“With our plasma machines, it can be given a the drawing of a part and cut thousands of them quickly to millimeter accuracy – it’s something not feasible for a person to do.
“But that’s because those parts are standard and don’t need high customisation.”
Mr Ryan said engineering personnel were still needed for customised solutions by clients.
“Livestock-oriented businesses are going towards automation – that’s just the industry we’re in,” he said.
The findings were published as part of RAI’s first release from its ‘Future of Regional Jobs Inquiry Program’.
RAI CEO Jack Archer said that while it was true some jobs would be lost or dramatically changed due to automation, many new jobs would be created in the process.
He said now was the time for communities to start preparing.
“Some regional areas are more susceptible to automation than others, and each region also has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses to deal with the changing nature of work,” Mr Archer said.
“Regional cities have the greatest proportion of jobs highly vulnerable to automation; however, they have an advantage in managing change as they are better placed when it comes to availability of technological infrastructure and professionals.”
He called on governments to address the transitions to workplaces by automation.
“Centralised policy responses by government are unlikely to deal with the unique challenges each community will face,” Mr Archer said.
Job Vulnerability in Australia
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