Accessability Links

Millions of UK Workers at Risk of Being Replaced by Robots

Within the next 15 years over 10 million UK workers could find themselves being replaced by AI, says a new study conducted by PWC.

The report found that 30% of jobs in the UK could be under threat, with some sectors losing as much as half of the current workforce.

Future automatons are expected to boost productivity, but could also cause a widening of inequality as robots become increasingly used for low-skill tasks.

Wholesale and retail, the sector that employs the most people in Britain, is set to be the most affected by these changes with an estimated 2.25 million jobs under threat. Other sectors at risk include manufacturing, administrative and support services, and transport and storage, which are all estimated to have around 1 million jobs threatened.

The report stressed how those who left school at GCSE level could expect the biggest impact. Due to this there are now arguments for government intervention within education to ensure that lifelong learning and correct job matching is achieved.

The head of technology and investments at PWC, Jon Andrews said, "There's no doubt that AI and robotics will rebalance what jobs will look like in the future, and that some are more susceptible than others.

"What's important is making sure that the potential gains from automation are shared more widely across society and no one gets left behind. Responsible employers need to ensure they encourage flexibility and adaptability in their people so we are all ready for the change.

"In the future, knowledge will be a commodity so we need to shift our thinking on how we skill and upskill future generations. Creative and critical thinking will be highly valued, as will emotional intelligence."

The sectors that are thought to be least under threat are those that have a high proportion of tasks unfit for automation, such as education, health and social care.

The PWC report come after numerous others assessing the potential for a robot revolution to cut jobs. US economist and Nobel Prize winner Robert Schiller said that a 'robot tax' should be considered to support those who have been made redundant by AI.

John Hawksworth, PWC's chief economist said, "A key driver of our industry-level estimates is the fact that manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable. That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI.

"Automating more manual and repetitive tasks will eliminate some existing jobs but could also enable some workers to focus on higher value, more rewarding and creative work, removing the monotony from our daily jobs."

Hawksworth also stressed that while it is possible to replace a human worker with a robot, it does not mean that it's economically attractive to do so. However he does expect this to change as robots become cheaper to produce.

"In addition, legal and regulatory hurdles, organisational inertia and legacy systems will slow down the shift towards AI and robotics even where this becomes technically and economically feasible.

And this may not be a bad thing if it gives existing workers and businesses more time to adapt to this brave new world," he said.

Source: The Guardian