Pandemic Wave of Automation May Be Bad News for Workers

The vice president of Meltwich said, “You can pull in a less-skilled worker and have them adapt to our system much easier.” There’s a wide range of people you can put behind the grill now.

According to Mr. Hillis, Meltwich is now only requiring two to three workers on a shift, rather than three or four, due to technological advancements in the kitchen, online ordering software, and more.

Workers’ futures could be vastly improved if these changes were implemented in thousands of businesses across a wide range of industries. Technology developed for one purpose tends to be adopted by other industries, which may make it difficult for workers who have been affected by automation to find new employment or a new industry.

“Where do these workers go if an entire industry is hit?” According to Professor Warman. He went on to say that women and people of colour would be hit harder than men.

People without a college degree have long relied on the grocery business for steady, unionised employment. However, the industry is undergoing a transformation thanks to technological advancements. It’s no secret that self-checkout lanes, simple robots, and automated warehouses have all helped to reduce the need for human cashiers. At a 375,000 square foot warehouse in April, Kroger installed more than 1,000 robots that bag groceries for delivery customers. Even groceries are being delivered by drone for the company.

Other businesses in the field are following suit. According to New England grocery chain Stop & Shop spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan, technology has allowed the company to better serve customers, and that it has been a competitive necessity. Brogan added that

Competition and other retail players are developing new technologies and partnerships to reduce costs and improve customer value,” she said. It’s time for Stop & Shop to follow suit.