The age of artificial intelligence is upon us, and with it comes concerns that people will have their jobs taken by robots, leaving them out of work and struggling to compete with a cyber race, akin to something out of a Doctor Who episode.
However, according to a new report from the Chartered Institute of Ergonomic and Human Factors produced in conjunction with CV-Library, the rise of robots will in fact create more job opportunities for skilled limited company contractors and freelancers.
But how is this the case?
CV-Library and the Chartered Institute of Ergonomic and Human Factors carried out research to find out how UK workers feel about the rise of artificial intelligence, which showed that many are optimistic about how they will enhance both the jobs market and wider society.
A survey of 1,000 manufacturers saw almost two-thirds (63.3 per cent) of respondents admit that the introduction of machines to their workplaces had not resulted in job losses, while more than three-quarters (78.9 per cent) said they think more should be done to talk up the benefits of robots and automation.
Some 72.6 per cent of those questioned also said they thought negative views of robots taking jobs previously performed by humans was simply scaremongering and could actually be preventing people from equipping themselves with the skills they will need in the workplaces of the future.
The report authors found that rather than taking people's jobs, machines are instead helping to plug skills gaps, allowing businesses to keep going despite ongoing recruitment struggles.
How robots will create jobs for people
Robots could also lead to the creation of new jobs for contractors, freelancers and other workers, as these machines require specialist maintenance and engineering once they are installed in a workplace.
In total, more than one-third (36.7 per cent) of respondents to the survey said that the introduction of robots into their place of work had already led to new job roles being created.
Steve Barraclough, Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomic and Human Factors, explained: "Automation requires programmers and maintainers in areas where they may not have been previously necessary. This presents a real opportunity to businesses and manufacturers that are embracing change.
"It's essential to keep people at the heart of new technology and to on-board staff at the earliest opportunity. Human factors play a significant role in the on-boarding process and are essential to ensuring employees are not resistant to change."
In addition, bringing robots into a workplace can provide contractors who are already on the books with an opportunity to learn new skills and ways of working that could help them to make sure they are well-equipped for the workplaces of the future.
Mr Barraclough added: "Robots and automation are regularly given a bad name. However, whilst automation might remove some mundane and repetitive jobs, it also makes a significant contribution to 'upskilling' employees, which is often overlooked."
How contractors can prepare for the future
So, with robots looking set to create rather than steal jobs, how can personal service company contractors, freelancers and other workers make sure they are in a strong position to benefit from these new job opportunities?
Artificial intelligence is only just beginning to penetrate the mainstream, so it is important that contractors are taking the time to get used to dealing with robots now so they are in a good position to compete for engineering and maintenance roles requiring a high skill level in the future.
Taking this action now means contractors will be able to add value to their clients in a few years' time when robots are likely to be even more commonplace.
Contractors who need to take time out from their regular workload in order to attend courses or workshops on new aspects of machine maintenance that they haven't come across before should remember that they can access administrative support and advice from My PSC, PayStream's limited company service.