Rise of the machines is bad news for UK job prospects, Deloitte report warns
Over a third of the UK’s workforce could be at threat over the next few decades as computers and robots begin to take over many jobs.
A joint report by accountancy firm Deloitte and the University of Oxford has warned that up to 11 million jobs could be taken over by automated workers, with low paid repetitive or menial jobs the most at risk, in what it calls “a major shift” in the UK labour market.
However jobs in computing, engineering and science should all remain safe, with the arts, media, law, healthcare and education sectors also remaining fairly resilient.
Overall, the report found that 35 percent of existing jobs in the UK are at high risk from automation over the next two decades, although this decreased to 30 percent in London. Across the UK, jobs paying less than £30,000 a year are nearly five times more likely to be replaced by automation than jobs paying over £100,000, which rise to eight times more likely in London.
“Technological advances are likely to cause a major shift in the UK labour market in the coming decades,” said Angus Knowles-Cutler, London senior partner at Deloitte. “Unless these changes are fully understood and anticipated, there will be a risk of avoidable unemployment and under-employment.
“A widening gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is also a risk as lower skill jobs continue to disappear.”
However despite these initial findings, the report does reveal some positives surrounding the UK job market, particularly in the capital, where 73 percent of businesses said that they planned to increase their headcount in the next five years.
Over half (51 percent) say they will add at least 10 percent to current staff numbers.
Many businesses admitted that they would be looking for their employees to develop additional skills over the next ten years, with ‘Digital know-how’, in particularly high demand alongside ‘management’ and ‘creativity’.
Robotics and automated working have become increasingly attractive fields for investment in the UK over the past few years, as businesses seek to expand their knowledge of how the technology can benefit them.
This includes a £5 million investment to fund the development of robotics technology at the Imperial College London announced by UK firm Dyson earlier this year. The money will set up a new robotics laboratory at the university headed up by the company’s founder James Dyson, which will focus on the vision systems that can help robots understand and adapt to the world around them.
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