The Michigan Daily-Saturday, May 9, 1981-Page 9
Robots enter the work-force
(Continued from Page 6)
T HE MOOD OF THE University's Industrial and
Labor Relations Department contrasts sharply with
the electric and excited atmosphere of the engineering
departments. ILIR personnel aren't optimistic about
the consequences of "the robotics revolution" - at
least in the short run.
"USUALLY TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE," says
Jeanne Gordus, assistant research scientist at the
ILIR, "produces more jobs, but you can't tell any
longer. It depends on who you talk to."
"It definitely threatens mass unemployment in the
future," says Richard Herstein, senior systems
analyst at ILIR. "A lot of people will have a lot of
time on their hands."
Richard Wilson offers a historical perspective to
the "robotics revolution." He likens the new
"revolution" of the 1980s, to the industrial revolution
of the 1880s.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, the percentage of
the work force employed in farming was high and
that of manufacturing low. As the farming industry
became more mechanized and productive, the jobs
lost to technology were absorbed in the expanding
Now, with a declining percentage of the work force
needed in manufacturing, what is the new trend that
will absorb the displaced jobs? Wilson says the jobs
could be absorbed by the service sector. "More small.
service companies could spring up," he said.
Gordus notes that the fastest growing sector is in
services, which are traditionally lower-paying jobs
that people tend to avoid. Also, service jobs, unlike
manufacturing jobs, don't create other jobs, she
says. "There is no ripple effect."
DORIS McLAUGHLIN, ASSOCIATE research
scientist at the ILIR, doesn't believe the service sec-
tor will take over. "The tertiary sector will not be the
sponge that absorbs excesspeople. The government,
often a cushion in hard times, isn't hiring anymore,
and offices are becoming more and more automated
With this increase in technology comes an increase
in minimum qualifications for the workforce. "If we
have a national priority of roducing more engineers,
computer skills personne, etc., we should end up
with a good match between job skills and market,"
"In the last 20 years, education has not been much of
a success. We've been getting so little out of the taxes
we've put in," she said, suggesting that the gover-
nment should put more money into research and
development, and education unless we want to "per-
petuate this mess."
THERE IS ALSO A problem with retraining the
current work force. Currently, Gordus said, a firm
has no obligation to retrain its displaced workers and
there is no extensive retraining program in the coun-
Some experts have even suggested that American
labor unions include educational and retraining
programs as a major goal of bargaining with
management in the future.
Denny Bryan, leader of a local UAW union, brought
up the current dilemma. When a worker is laid off,
his educational benefits are cut, so in effect, he can't
train for a more skilled job, Bryan said.
"WE WANT COMPANIES TO train our people so
they can accept and go along with the technology."
The unions are now talking about retraining before
the displacement, because, Bryan adds, "robots can
displace just about any job on the line."
He notes right now it's a "very hard situation." The
primary concern is with making a higher quality
product to compete with the Japanese imports.
Bryan cites examples such as increased worker par-
ticipation and a better environment and says things
will get better. "We'll hold our own," he says.
As David Pratt suggests, it is like a "Catch-22"
situation. Technology creates problems which we
need technology to solve. The future "will be dif-
ferent," he says, "but to assume that it will be bad is
Federal cuts to sl
Grotrian said that if the actions are
taken October 1 or later, students will
not feel the effects until the next school
The Reagan administration
proposals would do nothing to the work-
study program, however it does in-
crease the amount allocated to the
need-based National Direct Student
Loan program by $100 million after the
Carter administration had cut it,
ACCORDING TO THE Reagan
proposals, the Parental Loan for Un-
dergraduate Students (PLUS) program
would not be scrapped, but the interest
charged on the loans - currently sub-
sidized by the government - would rise
to normal market levels. Thus, accor-
ding to Dan Sharp, an aide to state Rep.
Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor), the en-
tire program would be rendered wor-
thless because there would no longer be
any advantage for parents to borrow
the ann arbor
the ann arbor
TONIGHT presents TONIGHT
MONEY & RUN
$2 SINGLE FEATURE
$3 DOUBLE FEATURE
from the government rather than
PELL GRANTS - formerly BEOGs
- would still be available under the
Reagan guidelines, but the sums of the
grants would not be increased to keep
pace with inflation. Thus, Grotrian
said, the real value of the grants would
By keeping the maximum Pell Grant
at $1750 rather than allowing it to rise
with inflation to $1900 under the 1980
Education Amendment, the program
could save the federal government as
much as $350,000 - $650,000 at the
2 INDIVIDUAL THEATRES
" ' " LA CAGE
-r dp AUX
SAT, SUN-1-1:40, 5:05, 8:40
Wed.. Sat., Sun.
$1.50 'l 06:00
THE FASTEST FUN
IN THE WEST IS BACK
SAT, SUN-1:50, 3:40, 5:40,
ash financial aid
University and $700 million across the revised - will be hammered out in
country, Grotrian said. congressional committees later .this
Approval of the Reagan budget in the summer.
House Wednesday merely fixed the
general amount of federal money to be THE OFFICE OF Financial Aid is
cut from the federal budget. The details hoping the budget proposal will be
of where that money is to be saved - moderated and toned down by commit-
what specific programs are to be cut or tee compromises, Gontrian said.
-E MOV IES A T B R IA RWOOD
94 & S. STATE. * 769-8780 (Adjacent to J C Peiney)
DAILY EARLY BIRD MATINEES-Adults $1.50
:>CUTI O HW SATN EOE13
A.M. til 1:30 P.M. Sun. & Hols. 12 Nocn til 1:30 P.M
cunt--All seats 51.00-Open to close
y ;. 4:1 5
9. :30 (R)
FRIDAY & SATURDAY
NOW (R) 11:15