Very Long-term: Automation (Robots Take Jobs, Shifting More Employees to Care Work)
As the senior care industry debates one problematic statistic involving the year 2030 (that the elderly will outnumber the young), much of the country has been embroiled in an entirely different debate over another problematic statistic involving 2030: that up to 375 million people may have lost their jobs to automation by this time.
Automation has already become an issue in many industries like manufacturing, where the ability to rely on robots to reduce costs pushes companies to lay off thousands of employees each year. While economic growth and productivity might offset some of the effects of automation, it’s still highly likely that robots will be taking a lot of our jobs by 2030.
There’s an apparently simple solution to both problems. By 2030, we’re going to need a lot more caregivers—and if the forecasts about automation are correct, there’s a good chance a lot of people are going to be out of work in 2030. If a portion of the workforce shifted from other industries to work in senior care over the next 10-15 years, it would potentially solve both problems.
This scenario has been discussed by global consulting firm McKinsey and Company, who concluded that an aging population was one of the most secure solutions to provide jobs unlikely to be taken by automation.
Does this solution oversimplify two very complex issues? Possibly. There are a great deal of demographic and economic factors affecting both caregiver shortages and automation, and it’s very possible that these issues won’t fit together nearly as neatly as we’ve outlined here.
(For instance, Japan is currently exploring the concept of robot caregivers. While it’s likely that consumers’ preference will always point toward human caregivers, it’s still very possible that this trend plays a role in the outcome of the caregiver shortage crisis.)
That said, as families, business owners, and policy makers search for solutions to the caregiver shortages crisis, it’s very likely that caregiving and automation will play complementary roles in whatever is to come.
Could robots indirectly be the long-term solution to your caregiver shortages? It’s very possible.