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Robots not killing jobs in CEE – researchers

| 2022-01-27 2 min read

Robots not killing jobs in CEE – researchers

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Increasing robotisation does not lead to more layoffs, according to a newly released study of worker flows in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Automation boost hirings in developing economies by 1-2%, contrary to the pervasive idea that robots are replacing human workers, according to the research into workplaces in 16 countries.

The joint study, entitled “Untangled – The Impact of Robots on Labour Market Transitions in Europe”, was conducted by Germany’s RWI-Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and Poland’s Institute for Structural Research (IBS). The study found that when the number of robots is increased in markets where labour is relatively cheap – for example Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – the risk of redundancies actually reduces, and the job market expands.

“The general message that comes from our research is that adoption of robots in Europe hasn’t led to a rise in unemployment,” Emerging Europe reported RWI researcher Myrielle Gonschor as saying. “The number of industrial robots per 1,000 workers quadrupled from 2000 to 2017, and the effects on employment have been seen as mixed. But it turns out that robots aren’t stealing our jobs – they’re changing them,” she added.

According to Polish researcher Piotr Lewandowski, robots in the workplace are generally used to complement the work of human employees. Moreover, investment in automation has created new jobs in CEE. “That may be because in those countries robots were often installed in greenfield investments, linked to the integration of these economies into global value chains,” Lewandowski said.

Professor Zoltan Csefalvay of Hungary’s Matthias Corvinus Collegium discussed regional factors when he spoke to CET in October. While the use of robots in CEE – primarily in the auto sector – has increased productivity, the relatively low cost of skilled labour may limit growth potential for vehicle makers.

“Because these countries in CEE – Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary – are very strongly specialised in those industries where robots are part of the normal procedure, it means they are relatively well positioned in robotisation,” he said. “In other words, what really drives robotisation in these countries is their specialisation in the so-called robotised industries,” added Csefalvay, whose research focuses on on the shift from ‘industrial’ to ‘service’ robots.

Source: Emerging Europe