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Robots on the Rise: Polish Businesses Embrace Automation but Face Skilled Worker Shortage

TECHNOLOGYRobots on the Rise: Polish Businesses Embrace Automation but Face Skilled Worker Shortage

By the year 2025, nearly half of all Polish companies plan to implement new technologies, according to a study. Larger businesses are particularly interested in robotics and have budgets allocated for this. Smaller companies, too, could benefit from process automation, but they lack the necessary support tools, and accessing qualified specialists remains a problem.

Implementing advanced technologies in companies constitutes a challenge not only for the organization itself but also for its employees. It demands high competencies or continual education, while it also raises concerns about their future within the job market.

To determine the level of investment in robotics, automation, and the development of artificial intelligence in business processes, a study was conducted between 2021 and 2022 among leaders of changes related to investments in technological transformation. It showed that companies today have concrete investment plans in these processes and, interestingly, most of them declare that the investments are covered by their funds. This applies to international global companies operating in Poland as well as local businesses.

A report prepared by the Polish HR Forum, a member of the Confederation of Leviathan, suggests that by 2025, 42% of companies plan to implement new technologies. In the case of large enterprises, 28% declare investments in non-humanoid robots. A study conducted by IFS Connect shows that almost 93% of respondents see automation as a strategic element of their development. Over 64% of the study participants have fixed budget positions related to this.

The main obstacle to automation and robotics is a lack of specialists who can implement these modern technologies, as indicated by 60% of organizations. In companies planning to implement new technologies, 16% predict increased employment related to these changes, 8% expect a decrease, and 34% see the need to change the competencies of employed staff.

The expert Jacek Męcina stressed the importance of retraining programs or upgrading the qualifications of employees so that most of them could find employment, even after investing in robotics or automation of processes. The employee must learn new skills related to working with robots or handling automatic processes to effectively continue working and maintain their jobs.

According to Męcina, although the discussion on new technologies mainly focuses on their business and economic impact, too little is said about their effect on social development. One of the challenges connected with technological development is the issue of education and changes to the system that would prepare the younger generation for functioning in new conditions. Another significant area is the continuous education and skills upgrading of employees, implying the challenge of social security.

Męcina suggests radical redirection of the current funds for combating unemployment that we practically don’t have, towards continuous education. He proposes dedicating several billion annually to reskilling and upskilling workers. The trickiest, yet very important element, is to build a sense of social security for employees who will in the future have more frequent breaks in their work to upgrade qualifications.

One of the indicators used to determine the level of technological advancement for the economy is the number of industrial robots. In Poland, there were 71 units per 10,000 employees in 2022, while the global manufacturing industry’s average increased to 151 robots. We installed 3.5 thousand new robots in 2021, and just under 3.1 thousand in 2022. For comparison, Germany installed 26 thousand. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), Poland is the fifth-largest market for industrial robots in the EU, after Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

Poland leads in investments in automation and digitization in sectors such as finance, insurance, advanced automotive, and some elements of the processing and metal industry. The education sector has also made quite a significant progress, especially with the experiences related to COVID. Digital services are also flourishing in the public sector, with e-prescriptions, e-certificates, and numerous other investments in e-administration. However, when it comes to investing in robotics processes, Poland is rather behind in the EU countries, and there is much to be done.

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