The influence of automation on employment in the South African manufacturing industry

Orientation: There are emerging uncertainties that automation causes job losses, especially in the manufacturing industry because it is a labour-intensive industry. Motivation of the study: The beverage manufacturing sector is essential because it contributes to the GDP of developing countries, as it is one of contributors of job creation. Purpose of the study: This study aims to identify the influence of automation on the South African beverage manufacturing industry, the objective is to investigate whether automation creates jobs, or it causes job losses. Methodology: This was a qualitative study, where seven semi-structured virtual interviews were conducted to collect data. Purposive sampling was used, the population for this study were employees who are working in the beverage manufacturing industry in Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces, South Africa. Thematic analysis was used to analyse and interpret collected data. The key findings of the study: The results of this study shows that automation creates new jobs for skilled workers, however, the study revealed that low-skilled workers who do repetitive work are vulnerable to losing their jobs when automation is introduced in the beverage manufacturing industry. The findings of the study also show that, employers upskill and train low skilled workers and old aged workers as a retention plan to reduce job losses workers whenever automation is introduced in the industry .The results of this study show that automation increases production and revenue for beverage manufacturers. Practical and theoretical contribution: Automation should be embraced in the beverage manufacturing industry because it creates jobs, and it increases production and revenue for beverage manufacturing firms. Conclusion: Adoption of automation can be a threat to low skilled workers, although it is able to create new jobs for skilled workers in the industry. Automation enables the beverage manufacturing industry to grow revenue as a result of an increase in production. Recommendations: In accordance with the literature reviewed and the findings of this study, it is recommended that automation be embraced by the beverage manufacturing industry in South Africa since automation would lead to an increase in production and returns in revenue for the manufacturers. It is further recommended that employees in the manufacturing sector be less anxious or less worried about the adoption of automation because automation presents new opportunities to learn new things and it creates new jobs. Based on the findings of this study it is recommended that employers should continue to train and up skill workers whenever automation is introduced in the beverage manufacturing industry in order to preserve jobs across their human resource spectra and affect positively the South African unemployment statistics
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Management (in the field of Digital Business) to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2021
Automation, Employment, Job losses, Manufacturing industry