Replacing people with machines to reduce labor costs in manufacturing has become a social consensus. In provinces and cities with concentrated manufacturing industries such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shenzhen, and Chongqing, the action of replacing humans with machines has been vigorously promoted for several years. After entering the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan”, not only the machine substitution in the above-mentioned provinces and cities is still unabated, but more provinces and cities have joined in.
According to ChinaindustryautomationAccording to the latest news released by Control.com yesterday, only as the Foxconn Apple foundry in Kunshan, the domestic electronic product foundry center, the recently completed new round of machine replacements replaced 60,000 employees at one time. After the previous machine replacements, the number of employees at Foxconn’s Kunshan plant has dropped to 110,000. After the latest machine replacement, only 50,000 employees remain. This has not ruled out whether Foxconn’s Kunshan factory has the next machine replacement arrangement.
According to the Kunshan Municipal Government, last year alone, including Foxconn, a total of 35 Taiwanese companies in Kunshan invested US$610 million for machine replacement. According to this year’s plan, the number of Taiwanese companies participating in machine substitution will increase to 600. These 600 Taiwanese companies are all relatively large, and their annual output accounts for more than 60% of Kunshan’s GDP. If the machine-substituting operation goes well, according to the Kunshan Municipal Government’s survey and estimation, in the next two to three years, millions of foreign employees currently employed in Kunshan will be taken away from their jobs by the machine.
As China’s economy is under great pressure to stick to the bottom line of 6.5% growth, structural adjustment, overcapacity, destocking, and deleveraging will result in the loss of a considerable number of jobs. As a result, stabilizing (guaranteing) employment has become one of the sensitive topics in today’s society. Therefore, although the strength and actual progress of machine replacements have exceeded the previous estimates, when introducing or reporting the progress of machine replacements, the number of replacements was not promoted as an achievement, and only the number of participating companies and investment was highlighted. Quantity, percentage increase in labor productivity and percentage decrease in labor costs.
Although the replacement of machines has caused a large number of young blue-collar workers from abroad to lose their jobs, it is understandable as a corporate behavior. In areas with a high concentration of machine replacements, local governments not only fully support their enterprises, especially large-scale OEMs with a large amount of labor, to implement machine replacements, but also give a certain percentage of “machine purchase subsidies”. The local government is both shrewd and pragmatic in accounting. Although the subsidy requires the use of financial funds, it is very cost-effective for the local enterprise to continue to develop after the replacement. Moreover, there is a more hidden benefit: given that the governments in the areas where machines are replaced, do not have to bear the responsibility of reemployment for the replaced migrant workers, after tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even more migrant workers leave, local Government investment in public security, education, medical care, housing and other public facilities has also been greatly reduced.
It is undeniable that the development of artificial intelligence technology has liberated human beings from heavy repetitive primary labor to a considerable extent.However, those who “snatch” jobs with humansRobot, did not stop there, security, customer service, cashier, housekeeping, chat, escort, performance, cleaning, catering services and other manual jobs have also begun to be replaced by robots in batches. What’s more, even in the primary legal affairs such as notarization, will, divorce, trademark registration, etc., robots have also replaced labor in batches. Not only that, but even the accounting, journalist and other positions that are generally considered to be difficult to be replaced by robots, robots are unceremoniously “squeezed” in, and bookkeeping and manuscript writing are more accurate and faster. Therefore, in the market and in society, public opinion has begun to worry, will robots take away most of the jobs of humans?
In fact, what needs to be worried has even become as urgent as burning eyebrows. It is not worrying about the future but facing the reality that it is urgent. Under the embarrassment of overcapacity and overstocking of products in various product categories in the domestic manufacturing industry, taking Foxconn as an example, most of the 60,000 employees eliminated by robots in its Kunshan factory are unlikely to be re-accepted by other factories in the Yangtze River Delta region. . Their low education and low skills determine that they can only return to their hometown. However, their hometown does not have so many labor-intensive factories that can absorb them. Some people may say that the proportion of the service industry has increased year by year, and the employment absorption capacity has risen. What the author wants to say is that under the strong impact of e-commerce and “Internet +”, the traditional service industry is also shrinking, and all kinds of modern service industries with electrified touch networks think their level is too low. What’s more, when the manufacturing industry as a whole has entered a shrinking cycle, the service industry also lacks a steady increase in employment demand.
In short, during the “13th Five-Year Plan” period, the number of low- and medium-skilled industrial workers and employees in other industries replaced by robots is likely to increase exponentially year by year. The status quo is that how to properly resettle thousands of them, local governments have not allocated the corresponding work energy to deal with them comprehensively. If this status quo continues until the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan”, it will evolve into another prominent social problem with a global perspective.Photo courtesy/Visual East
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