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Why Tradespeople Aren't Being Replaced by AI Anytime Soon

Rhino Trade Insurance 18 June 2024

In today's ever-evolving world, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation is flipping certain industries on their heads. From manufacturing to finance, AI technologies are streamlining processes and augmenting human capabilities

However, one sector where the impact of AI is often debated is the trades industry. Tradespeople across the UK often wonder: 'will AI ever replace us?' The short answer: not anytime soon. 

In this article, the team at Rhino Trade Insurance will explore why tradespeople remain invaluable, how AI ultimately complements your line of work rather than replaces human skills, and how embracing technology can enhance the trade industry as a whole!

Let's Start With The Basics: What Is AI?

When it comes to wondering what AI or artificial intelligence is, we can quickly become a little iRobot. To put it simply, it's like a super-smart computer program that learns and solves problems on its own. It's kind of like having a really clever assistant that can help with tasks by understanding patterns and making decisions based on the data it's given - in other words; it is constantly learning and, at some point, should perfect the task it is given. 

In the trades world, AI can assist with things like scheduling your jobs, managing your stock, or even analysing data to help troubleshoot issues (whether that's tricky blueprints or your year-end financials). 

While the current cycle of news may have you thinking that we are all being replaced by self-thinking robots, it's worth remembering that AI is not a replacement for human skills and intuition; it can be a valuable tool to make tasks easier and more efficient for tradespeople. 

Will AI Ever Replace Tradespeople?

Artificial intelligence (AI) won't replace tradespeople completely. Sure, AI can do some tasks like scheduling or crunching numbers, but it lacks the human touch and real-world experience tradespeople bring. 

Think about it: AI can't handle the unexpected twists of a job site or understand a client's unique needs like you can. Your skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities are what make you invaluable. AI is more like a helpful sidekick, not a replacement. 

Instead of worrying, see AI as a tool to make your work easier and more efficient. Embrace it and learn how it can assist you, but remember, your expertise and hands-on know-how are what set you apart in the trades world. Let's find out how AI will affect the trade industry in more detail below:

The Human Touch in Trades

At the heart of every successful trade job lies the human touch. Whether it's plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, or any other trade, skilled professionals bring expertise, problem-solving abilities, and creativity to every project that they work on. These are qualities that AI, despite its advancements, still struggles to replicate. AI can be thought of as the most intelligent machine in the world; however, with no hardware, it's hard to fix a pipe or fit an understairs cupboard. 

Consider the complexity of a plumber's job. It's not just about fixing leaks or installing pipes; it's about understanding the unique layout of each building, diagnosing problems accurately, and devising tailored solutions for your customers. Similarly, a skilled electrician doesn't just follow a set of predetermined rules but applies years of experience to ensure safety and efficiency in electrical installations. For AI to truly work, it needs all the information upfront, and then it can give you the answer in seconds. Without prior knowledge of the project's site/ plan, AI falls, and this is where the human touch wins overall. 

The Limitations of AI in Trades

While AI excels at tasks that involve repetition and data analysis, it falls short in areas that require adaptability, intuition, and good old human judgement. For instance, AI-driven chatbots may assist in scheduling appointments or answering basic queries, but they cannot replace the nuanced communication and problem-solving skills of a tradesperson interacting with clients face-to-face - have you ever experienced a chatbot on a company's Facebook page?

Moreover, the unpredictable nature of trade jobs presents a significant challenge for AI. Every project is unique, with its own set of variables and obstacles - especially when customers are changing their minds. Also, every customer is different. While some customers may prefer the direct approach to communication, other customers may fly into a blind rage if you don’t sprinkle bad news with a spoonful of sugar. Poor old AI has no chance with nuances like this. AI algorithms struggle to adapt to unforeseen circumstances or make split-second decisions in dynamic environments, tasks at which human tradespeople excel!

Augmenting, Not Replacing, Tradespeople

Rather than viewing AI as a threat, tradespeople can embrace technology as a tool to enhance their skills and efficiency. Take social media and websites as an example for this - if you asked tradespeople 20 years ago whether YouTube would help their profession, 99% would have laughed you off. But here we are, where building a social media channel and utilising online tools can seriously help you get more customers. 

For an AI example, AI-powered software can assist in project management, scheduling, and general tracking of a job and its materials, allowing tradespeople to focus more on their core competencies of getting the hands-on work done. 

Furthermore, advances in robotics and automation can take on physically demanding or hazardous tasks, reducing the risk of injuries for tradespeople. Collaborative robots, or cobots, can work alongside humans, increasing productivity and safety on construction sites and in manufacturing facilities! Nifty stuff. 

The Importance of Adaptation

In today's digital age, adaptability is key to staying relevant in any industry, including the trades. Tradespeople who embrace technology and continuously update their skills will remain in high demand. Whether it's learning to use new tools and software or staying updated on industry trends, investing in ongoing education is essential for long-term career success. 

Moreover, technology opens up new opportunities for tradespeople to expand their services and reach a broader audience. Online platforms and digital marketing strategies enable trade businesses to connect with customers, showcase their expertise, and attract new clients in ways that were previously unimaginable.

Similar to our social media examples above, if tradespeople refuse to learn new tools, the industry may leave them behind. Granted, you will always have your skills, but you could miss out on business. Twenty years ago, a customer may have found a tradesperson via the Yellow Pages. Today, customers look for businesses on social media with examples of their work or through useful sites like Checkatrade. In the future, we may see a generation who wants to view their projects through an AI tool on their Meta Quest. You simply never know, and that's why embracing is better than resisting.  

Building Trust and Relationships

One aspect where tradespeople have a distinct advantage over AI is in building trust and fostering relationships with their clients. Reputation and word-of-mouth referrals play a significant role in the trade industry, and these are built on trust, reliability, and quality workmanship.

While AI can provide solutions, it lacks the human element that clients value. A friendly smile, a reassuring presence, and clear communication are just as important to clients as the technical skills of a tradesperson. By prioritising customer satisfaction and building strong relationships, tradespeople can differentiate themselves from AI-driven competitors!

Technology Is Here To Stay, So Let's Make It Work For Us

To conclude, tradespeople in the UK need not fear being replaced by AI anytime soon. While AI technologies offer undeniable benefits in terms of efficiency and automation, they cannot replicate the unique skills, creativity, and human touch that tradespeople bring to their work!

By embracing technology as a tool for enhancement rather than a threat to job security, tradespeople can stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market. 

Ultimately, the future of the trades industry lies in the hands of skilled professionals who combine traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology to deliver exceptional results. As long as there are buildings to be built, pipes to be fixed, and wires to be installed, the demand for skilled tradespeople will remain strong. 

And let's not forget that with all those jobs comes a plethora of risks that no robot can take on for you. Let's not take any chances and ensure we have quality trade insurance coverage. Need a personalised trade insurance policy? Give Rhino Trade Insurance a call today to discuss your needs and get a quote in under a minute - 0116 243 7904

About The Author Phil McCormick

Experienced in brand marketing and content. Most of that lovely communication you see online will be from Phil. social media, emails, videos, how to make a bacon sarny? You get the gist!

Trade most identified with: Electrician - It’s our Phil’s job to map out all our communications and make sure the signal works! Also, he’s one of the cockiest blighters in the team so electrician fits perfectly!

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