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Owing to the widespread trends of automation and digitalisation transforming business across the globe, many have long predicted that the demand for blue-collar workers will drastically fall. 

However, in reality, the opposite is true. According to recent data, there is, in fact, a shortage of blue-collar workers while demand for them continues to grow.

AUTHOR: CEO of Zyfra, Igor Bogachev

In the United States, employment in the manufacturing sector grew by 7% from 2010 to 2018, and according to The Conference Board, a non-profit organisation dedicated to researching the US business climate, by the end of 2019, the labour market in that country will be historically tight.

Analysts from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute expect that between 2018 and 2028, these shortages will have a negative economic impact, costing the US economy up to $2.5 trillion. 

Embracing technology with a methodical approach

A further report published by employment agency Manpower Group shows that the shortage of blue-collar workers is a global phenomenon, with the highest number of unfilled vacancies in Romania (86%), Bulgaria (68%) and Turkey (66%).

In Ireland and the UK, 18% and 19%, respectively, of blue-collar vacancies remain unfilled.  

This lack of blue-collar workers is caused by young people increasingly opting for employment in the service sector. As a result, as McKinsey points out, the fact that 375 million workers will have to find new occupations by 2030 because of automation and AI does not seem problematic.

Adoption of automation and digital technologies is creating new advanced opportunities in the tertiary sector, meeting the employment expectations of the younger generation.

Currently, only 20-25% of small and medium-sized enterprises and 60% of large enterprises in the UK have automated their processes, while 77% of small enterprises in the US have no plans for digitalisation. And these are mature economies.

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As such, there is huge potential for the adoption of automation and digital technologies, which could solve the workforce shortage problem while optimising production.