U.S. corporate recruiters and staffing firms posted more than 6,000 online job ads requiring robotics skill sets in May. The figure represents a 29% year-over-year growth compared to May 2011 and is twice the volume of online robotics-related job ads posted in May 2010, according to Wanted Analytics, a business intelligence firm specializing in the jobs marketplace. However, variations in the depth of local talent mean that employers in some regions are having to wait longer to find people with sufficient robotics-related skills to take up the available positions. As a consequence, employers in these regions are offering more competitive employment packages than competitors in other parts of the country.
The job listings apply to both roboticists and end-users, Abby Lombardi, director of marketing at Wanted Analytics tells Robotics Business Review. “Basically it’s any job that included some sort of specification for knowing how to build, program, or work with robots,” says Lombardi. More than 2,000 jobs were advertised for healthcare practitioners—the most of any occupational field—at a 46% year-over-year increase. Engineering related jobs that required robotics skills increased by 13% from May 2011. In Phoenix alone, there was a 3,057% increase in the number of jobs requiring robotics skills in general medical and surgical hospitals, and an increase of 4,000% in similar postings for physicians’ offices.
“Robotics is an emerging field. We’ve been watching this skills set and requirement and noticing that it’s increasing steadily,” says Lombardi. Some of the increase in robotics-related jobs postings can be attributed to the general economic upturn but the current rate of growth is probably not sustainable, says Henrik I. Christensen,KUKA Chair of Robotics at the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology. “2009 to 2010 were slow years, but now that the economy is picking up again there is a surge for people that can install and operate robots,” says Christensen, who expects the rate of growth to slow down over the coming years.
“The robotics market grew 110% in 2011 according to the IFR World Robotics Report, but 2009 was particularly poor, so this is probably not a sustainable growth rate. I expect growth rates to be in the 20-30% range, but not in the 60-100% range. Sustainable growth of 25% is on a par with a long-term trend with many new areas of growth,” adds Christensen. Another factor driving the increase in robotics-related jobs, says Christensen, is the move away from outsourcing amongst U.S. companies, a trend driven by increased salaries in overseas markets. “Clearly companies are re-considering their manufacturing strategy. But in addition we are starting to roll out new products in manufacturing, services, and unmanned systems. We are trying to grow across the board which is encouraging,” says Christensen.