Should Electricians Be Worried About Robots and Automation?

When choosing a career path, we obviously want to make sure that we pick a job that can provide us with a salary for many years to come. One of the concerns that people can have, is whether or not automation and robots are going to be a threat to specifically electricians. This article will explore that subject.

Electricians belong in a category of workers, that will most likely not be replaced by robots. This is a final conclusion of both the consulting firm McKinsey and economic professor Michael Jones. Although almost every job will have some tasks, that can be replaced by robots, electricians shouldn’t be worried.

As stated, these two different sources have concluded, that the primary work of electricians will not be replaced by robots. But it was also stated, that every job that exists, will have some work tasks, that face the possibility of being automated by robots. In this article, you will get an understanding as to which parts of an electrician’s job are more likely to be replaced by robots. The unique tasks of an electrician that can not be automated will also be described and explained.

Will Robots and Automation Replace Electricians?

According to economics professor of the University of Cincinnati, Michael Jones, electricians are solving problems in varied environments, that are simply too difficult for a machine to understand. The environment is just too complex for a robot to navigate in.

However, in the analysis by McKinsey, there are certain parts that will most likely be automated. The jobs that will be replaced by robots are the ones that are navigating in a structured and predictable environment. These jobs will have a higher chance of being automated. For example jobs in manufacturing, fast food preparation, transportation, and also the mining industry.

Tasks of an Electrician a Robot Can’t Do

The following are the tasks of an electrician, that robots will most likely not be able to automate.

  • Communication related to project details (and communication in general)
  • Repairing of electrical equipment
  • Installing of electrical components, equipment and systems
  • Complex theoretical problem-solving
  • Planning of construction, installation and repairs.
  • Creation of installation diagrams (Source: McKinsey)

The key takeaway is, that they all involve either complex environments or unique problem-solving. As an electrician is being hired to repair certain electrical components, a variety of technical difficulties can arise. To apply the best solution requires the electrician to make a decision and implementation based on many different variables. Added to that, a robot will have no way of figuring out the often complex environment and the multitude of parts in the system.

Tasks of an Electrician a Robot Can Do

The following are the tasks of an electrician, that robots are more likely to be able to automate in the near future. Some of these are already being done by machines. However, they will become an even more integrated part of an “electrician’s” job.

  • Ordering of electrical material and equipment
  • Training of employees and new personel
  • Thread wire and cable
  • Manufacturing of electrical components
  • Calculate construction project costs
  • Test and inspect electrical equipment to ensure proper functioning

The key takeaway is that these tasks have parts that can be easily automated. Therefore these tasks are is more likely to replace personnel, who are doing these things. However, many of the tasks are already not being done by electricians on a daily basis. Ordering of electrical components relates to the transportation of material. The automation of this process will even become a benefit to electricians. Today you can already order components, and have them delivered on the same day. This makes the primary work of electricians more effective and enables the worker to focus on the important tasks.

Tasks of an Electrician a Robot Can Do |

Also Read: What does an electrician actually do?

The testing and inspection of electrical equipment is actually a big part of an electrician’s job. Some of these specific tasks are already being automated by smart systems. To give an example, electricians are often needed to test the proper functioning of an RCD (Residual Current Device). This device ensures that the installation will turn off if a human touches a power current. Today, smart RCD’s have already been developed, that are automating this process. Although, when a fault has been detected, the components still need to be replaced or repaired – a job, you need an electrician for.

Why Electricians Should (Mostly) Not Fear Automation

When comparing the job tasks a robot can and cannot replace, the complexity of the work is a key difference. On a daily basis, an electrician has to deal with many kinds of situations. As previously mentioned, the jobs that robots will replace will most likely be related to structured environments. Robots and artificial intelligence operate best in predictable circumstances. The work environment of an electrician is directly opposite to that.

No electrical work task will ever be the same, and the work environment is oftentimes complex. The electrical tasks will also have major differences in installing and repairing electrical equipment. In order for a robot to replace these electrical tasks, they will need the human capacity for creativity, planning, and the ability to operate in all environments.

Also Read: Is is Hard Work Being an Electrician?

The human component is key in almost every part of being an electrician. From installing and repairing to customer service and planning for the job. We will have to wait many years before a robot will be able to automate this process.

Robots vs. Electricians vs. Other Jobs

If I was going to make a small prediction, the electrical trade is actually going to be a much safer option than many other career paths. We will most likely be seeing a big shift in the magnitude as to how other professions will be replaced by robots.

Certain jobs would be considered more likely to be automated by either robots or artificial intelligence. These would be jobs such as people in transportation, manufacturing, and workers in warehouses. Even white-collar jobs could be facing future possibilities of an AI replacing them. So, what could be considered “safe” jobs, often held by academics, are maybe not as safe, as one would otherwise think?

What an employer can automate, they will in almost any case automate. This usually means a reduction in cost and by natural consequence a higher profit. Sometime in the near future, we might see a huge part of the population without work, that robots will be doing.

At the beginning of the millennium, Goldman Sachs employed 600 equity traders. By introducing automation, most of their daily tasks are now replaced with software (AI) and computer programmers. If you choose to pursue the path of an equity trader on wall street 20 years ago, you would have been highly disappointed.

Also Read: Plumbers vs Electricians: Who Gets Paid More?

But which career path should you choose in order to have a steady and reliable income for the coming years. The study and analysis mentioned in this article outline the electrical trade as being mostly a safe bet for the future. In the same category, we find other craftsmen such as plumbers, carpenters, and contractors.