Robots To Replace 20 Million Factory Jobs

A new report has added to concerns that human jobs will soon be replaced by machines in the years ahead.

The report, by the consultancy firm Oxford Economics, warned that up to 20 millions manufacturing jobs will be lost by 2030.

Robots taking human jobs is a growing worry for many. This is despite earlier this year a report by the World Bank found that the rise of automation so far had a negligible impact on jobs at a global scale.

Job losses

The report found that every robot will cost 1.6 manufacturing jobs in the years ahead. This translates to a total loss of 20 million manufacturing jobs in 2030, or 8.5 percent of manufacturing jobs.

But the report also noted that the move to robots should generate new jobs as fast as it automates them, however it could contribute to income inequality.

And the Oxford Economics report contradicts the World Bank study, as it says that approximately 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to robots since 2000.

This includes as many as 400,000 manufacturing jobs in Europe, 260,000 in the US and 550,000 in China.

Most of the robots are currently being used in the car industry. Indeed, the report found that the car industry used 43 percent of the robots in the world in 2016.

Robots are also reportedly becoming cheaper to utilise than human beings, with the average unit price per robot dropping 11 percent between 2011 and 2016.

Regional impact

The study predicted what regions in the advanced economies of the world would suffer the most impact.

In the UK for example it predicted that Cumbria most at risk from job losses due to robotic automation, as well as parts of the West Midlands.

But London and the south-east will be the most insulated, the Oxford Economics said.

However, the report did warn that there is a very real risk that increasing automation could increase income inequality.

Last August the Bank of England chief economist warned that the UK would need a skills revolution to avoid “large swathes” of people becoming “technologically unemployed” as artificial intelligence makes many jobs obsolete.

Prior to that a report from PwC suggested the arrival of artificial intelligence would be a win for the UK jobs market, as it would create as many jobs as it displaces by boosting economic growth over the next 20 years.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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